Skip to main content

Full text of "Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society"

See other formats

• l,pt.l 



3 1833 02321 0948 








. \--± 

Jackson, Mississippi 

Printed for the Society 



Neither the Editor nor the Society assumes any responsibility 
for opinions or statements of contributors. 




Introductory Note 1 7 

From Organization to Overthrow of Mississippi's Provi- 
sional Government, by /. S. McNeily 9 

•Mississippi (State Song), by Mrs. Dunbar Rowland 404 

Mississippi's Colonial Population and Land Grants, by 
Mrs. Dunbar Rowland 405 

History of Company ' C," Second Mississippi Regiment, 

Spanish-American War, by James Malcolm Robertshaw 429 

Colonel George Strother , Gaines and Other Pioneers in 
£ Mississippi Territory, by George J. Leftwich 442 

James Lockhart Autry, by James M. Greer 457 

Some Main Traveled Roads, Including Cross Sections of 
Natchez Trace, by George J. Leftwich . 463 

Walthall's Brigade— A Cursory Sketch with Personal Ex- 
periences of Walthall's Brigade, Army of Tennessee, 
C S. A., 1862-1865, by E. T. Sykes, late Adjutant-Gen- 

eral Walthall's Brigade 477 

Index 617 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 


With this volume a new series of the publications of the Mis- 
sissippi Historical Society begins. The first fourteen volumes 
were issued under the faithful and efficient editorship of Dr. 
Franklin L. Riley. Since the distribution of Volume XIV., Dr. 
Riley has gone to another field of labor in the chair of History 
of Washington and Lee University. 

The future numbers of these publications will be issued under 
the editorial supervision of the Director of the Mississippi De- 
partment of Archives and History. While it will be the policy 
of the editor to continue the publication* of monographs con- 
cerning Mississippi history, there will in future be more space 
given to the presentation of archive and manuscript material, as 
under new conditions such historical sources are more available 
now than formerly. The publication of source material will in 
no way conflict with the work of publishing documentary history 
by the Department of Archives and History, as an entirely dif- 
ferent field will be cultivated. 

The volumes published under my editorship will be known as 
the Centenary Series in commemoration of the one-hundredth 
anniversary of Mississippi's admission into the Union, in 1817. 
This is the initial volume of the series. 

To be enabled to begin the new series with an offering of such 
unusual size and excellence is gratifying; at the same time, it fixes 
a standard for future numbers hard to attain. Two of the con- 
tributions to this volume are of sufficient extent and importance 
to be published in separate form and their distinguished and 
scholarly authors have been requested to issue editions in that 

8 Introductory Note 

way. The contributions to which reference is made were writ- 
ten by two Confederate soldiers, who have shown to the present 
generation that the accomplishments of the scholar frequently 
accompany the heroism of the soldier, and that they use the pen 
as effectively as they did the sword. The paper on the population 
of Mississippi as a colony of England and Spain is a serious and 
valuable contribution to the history of the State ; that on one of 
the Mississippi pioneers, and another by the same author on early 
roads and localities, are valued monographs from a very careful 
investigator in local history. The paper on one of Mississippi's 
companies in the Spanish-American War, is the first published by 
the Society on that subject. The presentation of the Mississippi 
State Song, adopted by the Department of Archives and History, 
is an earnest effort by the author to inspire a feeling of pride and 
patriotism among the people. 

Dunbar Rowland. 
Jackson, Mississippi, June 15, 1916. 



By J. S. McNeily. 

Under the proclamation of President Johnson, May 29th, 1865, 
an election was held for delegates to a constitutional convention 
which assembled August 14th. It was called to order by Pro- 
visional Governor Wm. L. Sharkey, a distinguished citizen and 
eminent jurist, who had been appointed by the President. The 
convention, after promptly embodying in the organic law of the 
state the requirements prescribed, the formal recognition of the 
emancipation of the slaves, the repudiation of the war debts and 
obligations, etc., provided for the election of a Governor and 
other state officers, members of the legislature and congressmen. 

As reflections of the spirit of the times,, of the evil seeds of 
proscription that were germinating in the North, two incidents 
of the convention are noted. Upon the assembling of the con- 
vention President Johnson wrote a letter of counsel, which is 
quoted from: 

"If you could extend the elective franchise to all persons of 
color who can read the constitution of the United States in Eng- 
lish, and write their names, and to all persons of color who own 
real estate valued at not less than two hundred and fifty dollars, 
and pay taxes thereon, you would completely disarm the adver- 
sary, and set an example the other states will follow. This you 
can do with perfect safety, and you thus place the Southern states 
in reference to free persons of color, upon the same basis with 
the free states. I hope and trust your convention will do this, 
and, as a consequence, the radicals, who are wild upon negro 
franchise, will be completely foiled in their attempt to keep South- 


10 Mississippi Historical Society. 

ern states from renewing their relations with the union by not ac- 
cepting their senators and representatives." 

The convention having concluded its session and adjourned,. 
President Johnson, without noting the failure to comply with his 
request, communicated his approval of what it had done in pav- 
ing the way for "the readmission" of the states into the Union. 
On receiving from Governor Sharkey a copy of the work of the- 
convention Secretary of State Seward wrote in reply that it 
would engage the early attention of the President. 

A Washington press despatch of September 11th stated that 
the cabinet was earnestly considering the amended Mississippi 
constitution. Subsequently the following appeared in the Vicks- 
burg Herald: 

"The Louisville Democrat is responsible for the statement that 
the following letters actually passed between the parties, whose 
names are subscribed to them. The Democrat, referring to them, 
says : "This is the actual fact. Recently Mr. Seward forwarded 
to Governor Andrew, of Massachusetts, a copy of the Missis- 
sippi constitution for his approval. The latter turned it over to 
Willam Lloyd Garrison for his opinion." 

State Department. 

Washington, Sept. 4. 
To His Excellency John A. Andrew, Governor of the State of 
Sir — I have the honor to inclose the within constitution of 
Mississippi, and beg to know if it is satisfactory to your state, 
which, being the only "anti-slavery" state when the Union was- 
formed, has, of course, the right to decide on the new constitu- 
tion which the wisdom, virtue and valor of your state have forced 
the less enlightened state of Mississippi to adopt. 
With great respect, 

W. H. Seward. 

Gov. Andrew's Reply. 

Executive Department. 
Boston, Mass., Sept. 0. 
Wm. L. Garrison, Esq. : 

Sir — As you started the grand "anti-slavery enterprise," thirty 
years ago, and, even more than John Brown or Abraham Lin- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 11 

"coin, are its prophet and embodiment, and, as the secretary of 
f state is waiting to reply to the governor of Mississippi in regard 

to the new constitution of that state, I beg you will examine the 
enclosed, and reject or ratify it at your earliest convenience. 
I Yours, &c, 

John A. Andrew, 
}■ Governor of Massachusetts. 


Mr. Garrison's Reply. 

I Boston, Sept 7. 

His Excellency Governor J. A. Andrew : 

Sir — I have carefully examined the within constitution of 
Mississippi, and, though it does not fully embody my ''ideas," it 
is best perhaps not to 4 'crowd the mourners," just now, and there- 
fore I consent to ratity it, with the confident assurance that the 
"Freedmen's Bureau" will prepare the negroes for amalgamation 
,and extermination, and thus close up the great work forever. 

Yours, &c, 

Wm. L. Garrison. 

' Fortunately, indeed, the "less enlightened state of Mississippi," 
proved even less amenable to "exterminating the negroes" by 
amalgamating them, than the state of Garrison and Andrew. 
A State election, held October 2nd, in pursuance of an ordinance 
of the Constitutional Convention, passed off without disturbing 
. incidents, and resulted as follows. For governor: Humphreys 
19,027, Fisher 15,048, Patton 10,519. In some counties repre- 
sented by companies in his old brigade, the vote for Humphreys 
was practically solid. While this testified to his popularity with 
the soldier vote, the general result indicated the strength of the 
feeling of the unpolicy of the election of a soldier candidate — 
even one who had been pronounced in opposition of secession. 
The plea of expediency was only beaten by division of its sup- 
porters between two candidates without war records. Their de- 
feat was the exception to the rule throughout the South of pla- 
cating Northern temper, by placing at the heads of the new gov- 
ernments men who had "smelled the battle from afar off." But 
the soldier element did not yield readily. In South Carolina 
Gen. Wade Hampton came within 500 votes of election, in spite 
of his refusal to become a candidate, and his appeal to the peo- 
ple not to vote for him. 

12 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Col. C. E. Hooker, a one-armed Confederate soldier, who had 
canvassed the state upon the pending- issues, was elected attorney- 
general over Richard Cooper. The following were chosen to 
congress : 

1st District — A. E. Reynolds, of Tishimingo. 

2d District— R. A. Pinson, of Pontotoc. 

3d District — Jas. T. Harrison, of Lowndes. 

4th District— A. M. West, of Holmes. 

5th District— E. G. Peyton, of Copiah. 

Gov. B. G. Humphreys was a native of Claiborne county and 
a cotton planter. He was a cadet at West Point when Jeffer- 
son Davis and Robert E. Lee were there, though he did not grad- 
uate from the famous military college. In politics he was a 
Whig and had represented his county in both branches of the 
legislature. When the war broke out he was living on his plan- 
tation in Sunflower county, where he raised a company which he 
led to Richmond. It was incorporated in the 21st Mississippi 
infantry regim-ert of which he was made colonel. Upon the 
death of Brigadier General Barksdale at Gettysburg he was pro- 
moted to the vacancy so created. His service in the army of Vir- 
ginia was continuous, arduous and most honorable until Septem- 
ber, 1864, when he was retired from active command in the 
field by a severe wound received at the battle at Berry ville, in the 
Valley campaign. No one of his rank was more trusted by his 
superior officers or more beloved by all who served under him. 
His courage, which never quailed in battle, was perfectly tem- 
pered by self control and resolute composure that fitted him ad- 
mirably for command. The same gifts of temperament, joined 
with inflexible integrity and patriotic devotion to his state, rarely 
qualified him for the duties and labors of the exceedingly deli- 
cate and difficult position he was called to occupy. It was the 
singular fortune of the state to have three Governors during the 
year" 1865— Clark, Sharkey and Humphreys— each of whom was 
alike distinguished for absolute integrity, indomitable courage, 
conservative temperament, mature judgment and unswerving 
justice. A few days after the election of the latter, on October 
11th, President Johnson, in an executive order, directed the re- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 13 

turn of Gov. Charles Clark and others of the proscribed class 
from prison on parole; to appear at such time and place the 
President may designate, to answer any charge that may be pre- 
ferred against them. 

The events of the three crucial years of Mississippi's provi- 
sional government, comprises the subject of this historic sketch. 
To the end of clear and coherent understanding, it is correlated 
and interwoven with contemporary relevant acts of national leg- 
islation, and executive orders and proclamations. The following 
quoted from the chief text book of radicalism explains a main 
motive in undertaking this task: "The importance of the na- 
tional struggle of 1866," says the distinguished Republican and 
leader in congress, Jas. G. Blaine, in his Twenty Years in Con- 
gress, "cannot be overestimated. It has probably been underes- 
timated. If the contest had ended in a victory for the Demo- 
crats the history of the succeeding years would in all probabil- 
ity have been radically different." This is a true but a very 
feeble statement of the supreme and far-reaching consequences 
of the issues decided in the election of 1866. A "Democratic 
victory" would indeed have been "radically different." It would 
have been attended by a constitutional instead of a vengeful and 
revolutionary reconstruction. The egg of negro suffrage, that 
hatched a brood of curses which still hovers over the land, would 
never have been laid. The South would have been spared the 
years of ruinous internal strife and impoverishment, the hate and 
humiliation engendered by base and rascally rule; the North 
would have escaped the stain of responsibility for a shameful and 
vindictive policy, whose poisonous fruitage is never ending; and 
the Union the harvest of the disturbing issues that dominated 
and influenced the national counsels for more than a score of 
years. The crime of evil days is measured by the fact that 
since Blaine and his fellow reconstruction anarchists have passed 
away none have had the heart or the hardihood to defend it. In 
a recent address a professor of the University of Pittsburg, a 
hotbed of Republicanism, thus affirmed this view of the Repub- 
lican victory of 1866: "There is no solution for the problem; 
but time and the repairing or ignoring of the disastrous blunder 

14: Mississippi Historical Society. 

of Reconstruction, recognized now as frankly North as South, 
may help." 

It is the vast "importance," historically, of the result of the 
election of 1866 as it was written into the laws and lives of the 
people, that has enlisted the time and labor given to this narra- 
tive of events of a troubled and fateful era. The enlistment has 
been inspired _as a duty, morally compelled, indeed, by the writ- 
ings of authors prejudicial to the South and with the motive of 
shielding the North from the just judgment of posterity. Their 
historic perversions, so deeply injurious to the records and the 
reputation of Southern people of the past, have met with too lit- 
tle circumstantial refutation. For that, they were too deeply 
submerged in the slough of defeat and despondency; too ab- 
sorbed in saving what they could of the war's wreckage ; of ad- 
justing themselves and their affairs to a social and economic as 
well as a political revolution, which called for a struggle to keep 
off the wolf. Correction of record and vindication of reputa- 
tion has been undertaken by one who lived under and bore a share 
in contending against the reconstruction, negro suffrage, evils, 
as a solemn duty. Under such inspiration the contents of this 
sketch of state and Southern history have been gleaned from the 
chronicles of the period, with the corroboration of personal mem- 
ory of events, with scrupulous regard for truth. 

The legislature met October 16th, and organized by electing 
Gen. S. J. Gholson, of Monroe county, speaker of the house, and 
Col. John M. Simonton, of Itawamba, president of the senate. 
Preceding the inauguration of Governor-elect Humphreys, the 
two houses in joint convention were addressed briefly by Provi- 
sional Governor Sharkey. As published in the Journal "he al- 
luded to the distracted condition of the state; how that the work 
of recognition fell to his lot and how distrustful he was of his 
abilities in assuming the great responsibilities thus devolved upon 
him. He had done the best he could — had labored faithfully to 
bring order out of chaos and, notwithstanding the embarrass- 
ments which had crowded around him from every possible di- 
rection, he felt that he was in some degree successful. He was 
proud to say that Mississippi had taken the lead in the work of 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 15 

reconstruction, and that without any lights for her guidance she 
had set an example for her sister states that is being deemed 
worthy of emulation and with the most beneficial results to the 
South. And now when Gov. Humphreys, who was the choice 
of the people, was installed into office, his functions as Provi- 
sional Governor would cease; and he was happy to say that 
Mississippi would then have a full civil government in opera- 
tion. * * * He alluded to the very ardent and earnest man- 
ner in which he had been encouraged and sustained by the Presi- 
dent and expressed the hope that through wise and judicious 
legislation, negro garrisons and other evidences of military rule 
would soon be removed from the state." 

After Provisional Governor Sharkey's brief and deeply im- \ 
pressive address, his successor, Governor Humphreys, delivered 
his inaugural. As a faithful reflection of the state's conditions 
and environments, the following is quoted from the first post 
"bellum executive address to a Southern legislature : 

"The South having ventured all on the arbitrament of the 
sword, has lost all save honor ; and now accepts the result in good 
faith. It is our duty to address ourselves to the promotion of 
peace and order — to the restoration of law, the faith of the con- 
stitution, and the stability and prosperity of the Union; to culti- 
vate amicable relations with our sister states, and establish our 
agricultural and commercial prosperity upon more durable foun- 
dations — trusting that the lessons taught by the rebellion will not 
be lost either to the North or the South — that freemen, once en- 
lightened, will not submit to wrong or injustice — that sectional 
aggression will meet with sectional resistance, and that the price 
of political perfidy is blood and carnage. 

The state of Mississippi has already under the pressure of the 
result of the war, by her own solemn act, abolished slavery. It 
would be hypocritical and unprofitable to attempt to persuade the 
world that she has done so willingly. It is due, however, to her 
honor, to show by her future course that she has done so in good 
faith, and that slavery shall never again exist within her borders, 
under whatsoever name or guise it may be attempted. The sud- 
den emancipation of her slaves has devolved upon her the highest 

16 Mississippi Historical Society. 

responsibilities and duties. Several hundred thousand of the ne- 
gro race, unfitted for political equality with the white race, have 
been turned loose upon society ; and in the guardianship she may 
assume over this race, she must deal justly with them, and protect 
them in all their rights of person and property. The highest de- 
gree of elevation in the scale of civilization to which they are ca- 
pable, morally and intellectually, must be secured to them by their 
education and religious training. But they cannot be admitted to 
political or social equality with the white race. It is due to our- 
selves, to the white emigrant invited to our shores, and — it should 
never be forgotten — to maintain the fact that ours is and shall 
ever be a government of white men. The purity and progress of 
both races require that caste must be maintained ; and intermar- 
riage between the races be forbidden. Miscegenation must be 
the work and taste of other climes and other "people." 

To work, is the law of God ; and is the only certain protection 
against the pauperism and crimes of both races. The negro is 
peculiarly adapted to the cultivation of the great staples of the 
South. He should be encouraged to engage at once in their pro- 
duction by assurances of protection against the avarice, cupidity 
and injustice of his employer. He is free to choose his labor, 
and to make his own bargain. But he should be required to 
choose some employment that will ensure the maintenance of him- 
self and family. On the other hand, the employer must be as- 
sured that the labor contracted for will be specifically performed. 
The cultivation of the great staples of the South require continu- 
ous labor from January to January. The planter cannot venture 
upon their cultivation unless the laborer is compelled to comply 
with his contract ; remaining and performing his proper amount 
of labor, day after day, and week after week, through the whole 
year; and if he attempts to escape he should be returned to his 
employer, and forced to work until the time for which he has con- 
tracted has expired. By such a system of labor, the welfare 
and happiness of the African may be secured, the agricultural 
and commercial prosperity of the state sustained, and our homes 
again become the abode of plenty. 

From a long retirement to private life, and absence from the 
state for the last four years, I am ignorant of much of her legis- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 17 

lative history, and feel incompetent to advise farther as to the 
proper domestic policy rendered necessary by the altered, dis- 
tracted, and desolated condition of the people. To you, gentle- 
men, is wisely and safely entrusted this important duty. Invok- 
ing the blessings of Almighty God upon your labors, I can only 
pledge you my cordial co-operation in the effort to restore and ad- 
vance the welfare and happiness of the people of Mississippi." 

While honest and candid, after the manner of the man, this 
message was not diplomatic. Prudence might have suggested 
a different phraseology — words more pleasing to the ear- of the 
implacables of the North. But its notes ring true to the unquail- 
ing manhood of a people who, though conquered, 'impoverished 
and oppressed, would not play the part of the time server or fawn 
for favor. It sums up the truth of the race problem as known to 
an hereditary slaveholder; one noted for humanity and kindness 
towards his slaves. 

Provisional Governor Sharkey promptly informed Secretary of 
State Seward that "Benjamin G. Humphreys has been duly in- 
stalled into office — that the constitutional government is now com- 
plete and the legislature is in session." Receipt of this letter, 
dated October 19th, was acknowledged November 3d, by Mr. 
Seward, who instructed Governor Sharkey that ''it is the expec- 
tation of the President that you will continue your functions as 
provisional governor until further notice from this department." 
Like notice was communicated to the provisional executives of 
other states — for some cause the president hesitated in effecting 
his plan of reconstruction, and decided to hold on to the provi- 
sional arrangement. He had communicated to Governor Shar- 
key instead of Governor Humphreys on November 1st, stating 
it was "all important that the legislature should adopt the amend- 
ment to the constitution of the United States abolishing slavery. 
The action of the legislature of Mississippi is looked to with great 
interest at this time, and a failure to adopt the amendment will 
create the belief that the action of the convention abolishing slav- 
ery will hereafter, by the same body, be revoked. The argument 
is, if the convention abolished slavery in good faith, why should 
the legislature hesitate to make it a part of the constitution of the 

18 Mississippi Historical Society. 

United States. I trust in God that the legislature will adopt the 
amendment, and thereby make the way clear for the admission of 
senators and representatives to their seats on the present con- 
gress." November 17th the President again addressed Governor 
Sharkey, asking him to "please report from time to time what 
progress is being made in the restoration of the functions of the 
state, and make such suggestions as he may deem proper and cal- 
culated to accomplish the great work in which he is engaged. 
■* * * Let the amendment to the constitution of the United 
States abolishing slavery be adopted ; let such laws be passed for 
the protection of freedmen in person and property as justice and 
equity demand. The admission of negro testimony, they all be- 
ing free, will be as much for protection of the white man as the 
colored. I do hope the Southern people will see the position they 
now occupy and avail themselves of the favorable opportunity of 
once more resuming all their former relations to the government 
of the United States and in so doing restore peace, prosperity, 
happiness and fraternal love. Governor Sharkey will please 
show this dispatch to B. G. Humphreys, Governor-elect." 

After organization the legislature balloted for United States sen- 
ators, the choice falling on Governor W. L. Sharkey and General 
Jas. L. Alcorn, of Coahoma county ; both acceptable under the new 
order as Union men, were opposed in 1860 to secession. Changes 
required for adopting and conforming the government to the new 
conditions, for raising the state from the prostration of war and 
the subversion of the industrial order by emancipation, was a 
heavy tax upon the constructive talent of the legislature. With 
slave property destroyed, wrecked railroads, and land values only 
nominal, the question of revenue for carrying on the government 
was a difficult one. But above all in perplexity, and political and 
economic importance, was the duty devolved upon the joint select 
committee on freedmen ; "to take into consideration the laws and 
changes in existing laws for the protection of the person and 
property of the freedmen." The August convention had ap- 
pointed a committee of three of its members, Messrs. Hudson, 
Hemingway and Goode, "to prepare and report to the legislature 
for its consideration and action, such laws and changes in exi-=t- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 19 

ing laws, as to said committee may seem expedient in view of the 
late amendments to the constitution of the state by the conven- 
tion." The report now laid before the legislature, recited that 
the committee had been compelled to consider the duty with which 
it had been charged, "unaided by any state or national precedent." 
And that "in preparing suitable legislation for two distinct races 
and classes yet living under one common jurisdiction and domi- 
nance, so as to harmonize and promote the interest, prosperity 
and happiness of both races and the state." * * * they have 
proceeded rather on their own observation and knowledge of the 
nature, disposition, habits, capacity, condition, weakness and ne- 
cessities of the two races as they now exist in our state. * * * 
than upon a theory or system that might have been wise or ju- 
dicious under a wholly different state and condition." 

The convention committee report with draft of measures rec- 
ommended for enactment was received and ordered printed. 
The legislature, however, entrusted the whole subject matter dealt 
with to the joint select committee above referred to; for drafting 
"laws and changes in existing laws for protection and security of 
freedmen and to protect the state from support of minors, va- 
grants and paupers," etc. The first of the committee series after- 
wards stigmatized as the "black code" was the creation of county 
courts, composed of the probate judge, and two justices of the 
peace to be selected by the justices of the county. The commit- 
tee reported that "crime, lawlessness and demoralization now 
prevalent in most localities resulting from the war and consequent 
on sudden emancipation," called for a more speedy and rigid en- 
forcement of law than the ordinary tribunals afford. Other bills 
were drawn, for amending the laws of vagrancy, and to regu- 
late the relations of master and apprentice as related to the freed- 
men. The vagrancy law provided that all freedmen over the age 
of 18, who were found without lawful employment on the second 
Monday of January, 1866, should be subject to fine and imprison- 
ment. If the fine was not paid the offender was to be hired out 
until his wages wiped out the fine. The act contained other pro- 
visions, one for a negro pauper fund was provided, to be raised 
by a poll tax on freedmen of one dollar. The apprentice act 

20, Mississippi Historical Society. 

placed all negroes under 18 years of age, who were orphans, or 
•without visible means of support, under the disposal of the pro- 
bate court for apprenticeship, former owners being given prefer- 
ence when deemed suitable or competent persons. Another act 
of the series prohibited the ownership by freedmen of fire arms 
and bowie knives. At this time there was much vague talk of 
negro uprising and a war of races, as the result of incendiary 
teachings of evil minded men, especially by negro soldiers and 
some of their officers. 

The law of this series of greatest moment was the "act to con- 
fer civil rights on the freedmen," and for other purposes. The 
bill was reported to the house on the 19th day of the session, b> 
the Hon. H. F. Simrall, the member from Wilkinson county, and 
the leading spirit of the legislature in the adoption of the policy 
toward the freedmen. The bill was considered for some days 
and amended in certain particulars on which there was a decided 
difference of opinion. Pending its enactment a recess resolu- 
tion was adopted, until the fourth. Monday in January. This 
was followed by a message from Governor Humphreys, Novem- 
ber 20th, urging immediate attention to projects of vital import- 
ance to the welfare of the state." 

"By the sudden emancipation of over three hundred thousand 
slaves Mississippi," the message recited, "has imposed upon her a 
problem of vast magnitude, upon the solution of which depends 
the future prosperity and welfare of ourselves and our children." 
* . * * \y e must now meet the question as it is and not as we 
would like to have it. The rule must be justice. The negro is 
free. * * * We must realize that fact now and forever. To 
be free, however, does not make him a citizen or entitle him to 
political or social equality. But the state constitution and justice 
do entitle him to protection in his person and property." This 
statement of the principles of the new order led up to a strong 
argument for the full admissibility of negro testimony "as a mea- 
sure of domestic policy, whether for the protection of the person 
or property, or for the protection of society. * * * The 
question of admitting negro testimony for the protection of iheir 
person and property sinks into insignificance by the side of the 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McXeily. 21 

other great question of guarding them and the state against the 
evils that may arise from their sudden emancipation. What are 
the evils that have already arisen, against which we are to guard 
the negro and the state? The answer is patent to all — vagrancy 
and pauperism, and their inevitable concomitant, crime and mis- 
ery, hang like a dark pall over a once prosperous and happy but 
now desolate land." 

"To the guardian care of the Freedmen's Bureau has been in- 
trusted the emancipated slaves. The civil law, and the white man 
outside of the bureau, has been deprived of all jurisdiction over 
them. Look around you and see the result. Idleness and va- 
grancy has become the rule. Our rich and productive fields have 
been deserted, for the filthy garrets and sickly cellars of our towns 
and cities. From producers they are converted into consumers, 
and as winter approaches, their only salvation from starvation and 
want is Federal rations — plunder and pillage. Four years of 
cruel war, conducted on principles of vandalism disgraceful to the 
civilization of the age, were scarcely more blighting and destruc- 
tive to the homes of the white man, and impoverishing and de- 
grading to the negro, than has resulted in the last six or eight 
months from the administration of this black incubus. Many 
of the officers connected with that bureau are gentlemen of honor 
and integrity, but they seem incapable of protecting the rights 
and property of the white man against the villainies of the vile 
and vicious with whom they are associated. 

How long this hideous curse, permitted of Heaven, is to be al- 
lowed to rule and ruin our unhappy people, I regret it is not in 
my power to give any assurance, further than can be gathered 
from the public and private declarations of President Johnson 
that "the troops will all be withdrawn from Mississippi, when in 
the opinion of the government the peace and order and civil au- 
thority has been restored and can be maintained without them." 
In this uncertainty as to what will satisfy the government of our 
loyalty and ability to maintain order and peace and civil ^govern- 
ment, our duty under the constitution to guard the negro and the 
state from the evil arising from sudden emancipation, must not 
be neglected. Our duty to the state, and to the freedmen, seems 

22 Mississippi Historical Society. 

to ime to be clear, and I respectfully recommend. 1st. That 
negro testimony should be admitted in our courts not only for the 
protection of the person and property of the freedmen but for 
the protection of society against the crimes of both races. 2d. 
That the freedmen be encouraged at once to engage in some pur- 
suit of industry, for the support of his family 'and the education 
of his children, by laws assuring him of friendship and protection. 
Tax the freedman for support of the indigent and helpless freed- 
men, and then with an iron will and the strong hand of power 
take hold of the idler and the vagrant and force him to some 
profitable employment. 3d. Pass a militia law that will enable 
the militia to protect our people against the insurrection or any 
possible combination of vicious white men and negroes. 

I deem the passage of these measures, before you take a recess, 
of vital importance. 

The "President's declaration" referred to was in reply to a 
communication from Governor Humphreys, reporting a gross 
outrage by negro troops at Meridian. In writing of it to the 
President the Governor said : "The legislature has memorialized 
for removal of U. S. troops, and seem willing to extend to the 
freedmen the right to testify in court, if assured the troops would 
be withdrawn. Members fear that one concession only leads to 
another. What assurance can I give on the subject." 

In submitting the memorial mentioned to the legislature, the 
committee recited that it was not deemed "inappropriate to ex- 
press their regret at the unhappy state of things likely to exist by 
quartering a large number of negro troops upon the people of this 
state, occupying their houses and public buildings without their 
consent, and threatening in many localities, as your committee is 
advised, to produce insurrectionary and domestic violence. That 
multiplied injuries and wrongs are almost daily inflicted upon the 
people of this state by officers or soldiers under their charge un- 
der the apparent sanction of laws or orders from the military de- 

President Johnson's reply to the complaint and request of Gov- 
ernor Humphreys, dated November 15th, is quoted : 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 23 

B. G. Humphreys : 

The troops will be withdrawn from Mississippi when in the 
opinion of the government the peace and order and the civil au- 
thorities have been restored and can be maintained without them. 
Every step will be taken while they are there to enforce strict 
discipline and subordination to the civil authorities. There can 
be no other or greater assurance than has heretofore been on the 
part of the Federal government. There is no concession re- 
quired of the legislature, other than a legal compliance with the 
laws and constitution of the United States and the adoption of 
such measures giving protection to all freedmen and possession 
of property without regard to color, as will entitle them to as- 
sume their constitutional rights in the federal union. The peo- 
ple of Mississippi may feel well assured that there is no disposi- 
tion arbitrary on the part of the government to dictate what their 
action shall be, but on the contrary to simply and kindly advise a 
policy that is beneficial and will result in restoring all the rela- 
tions which should exist between the states comprising the fed- 
eral union. It is hoped that they will feel and appreciate the 
suggestions herein made, for they are done in that spirit which 
should pervade the bosom of all who desire peace and harmony 
and of thorough restoration of the Union. There must be a con- 
fidence between government and states which the government 
confides in the people. The people must have faith in the gov- 
ernment. This must be mutual and reciprocal or all that has 
been done will be thrown away. 

Andrew Johnson, 


Clamor against the pending race legislation caused President 
Johnson to order General Thomas to look in on the Mississippi 
government with discretionary powers to turn out Humphreys and 
replace Sharkey as provisional governor. After listening to this 
proposition Governor Sharkey replied to Thomas that under 
President Johnson's instructions he had reconstructed the state 
and with his sanction had installed Governor Humphreys, who 
the people had chosen to that office, and set the machinery of 
government in motion, and that under no circumstances would 
he again act as provisional governor. General Thomas suggested 
that it would place the President right with the Republicans if 
Governor Sharkey would act in supervision of affairs in Missis- 
sippi, while Governor Humphreys could act as nominal governor. 

24 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Sharkey told him plainly no; but suggested an interview with 
Governor. Humphreys. The two, with General Woods, the dis- 
trict commander, accordingly called at the executive office, when 
Governor Sharkey repeated what had passed between him and 
General Thomas. Governor Humphreys, as unswerving from 
his sense of duty and self respect as Judge Sharkey, stated that 
he had no argument to make but would submit to no supervision 
not required by his oath of office; that he was the only consti- ' 
tutional Governor of Mississippi, unless Governor Clark, then a 
United States prisoner, was, and that he would play second fiddle 
to no man. He read letters from Secretary of State Seward in 
which he and the President recognized him as Governor. This 
candid and courageous attitude caused a tension which was re- 
lieved by General Woods, who suggested to General Thomas that 
"as it was within his discretion, he delay proceedings further, un- 
til the legislature took final action.'' In this proposition General 
Thomas concurred and the incident was closed, to the credit of 
all concerned. 

Following the Governor's message, legislative consideration of 
the act to "confer civil rights upon freedmen," etc., was resumed. 
This was urged in an address from the joint select committee. In 
this it was said the negro testimony section of the bill as passed 
upon, "comes short of meting out the full measure of justice." 
Its enlargement was urged for the further reason, *'to place com- 
pletely under the jurisdiction of the state and the adjudication of 
the courts the freedmen, and to romove the pretext for the fur- 
ther' continuance of the freedmen's bureau and the troops of the 
United States among us." This section was enlarged, but not to 
the extent urged by the Governor. Trie treedman was made 
competent as a witness only in cases where a negro was a party 
to the suit, either as plaintiff or defendant, in civil or criminal 
proceedings. It is to be conceded that the opposition to full 
competency of negro, testimony was not wholly due to race preju- 
dice. It was held by many that the logical and perhaps the legal 
effect of such a provision, would be to promote the contention for 
full race equality. As reported by the select committee the bill 
passed the house by a vote of 5S to 31, and the senate by 16 to 13. 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McXcily. 2o 

From causes that are commonly understood, resistance to a more 
liberal conference of- civil rights upon the negro, was chiefly 
among members from the white counties. By the provisions of 
this statute, in the acquirement and uses of personal property the 
negro was given the same rights as the white man. But every 
freedman was required "to have a lawful home or employment 
on the second Monday of January, 1866." All labor contracts 
were required to be in writing, and any laborer quitting before 
expiration of his term of service without good cause, should, for- 
feit iiis wages. Such laborer was also made liable to arrest and 
return to his employer. It was provided that the laborer should 
have the right of appeal before a peace justice to show good cause 
for his action. The law was made stringent against enticing la- 
borers away from employers. 

Quite as pressing, and almost as perplexing, as the adjust- 
ment of the freedmen's status, was the call for legislation for 
facilitating and tiding over the people in the struggle for recovery 
from financial prostration and industrial chaos. In dealing with 
this emergency the legislature, while patriotically inspired, was 
not wisely steered. Guided by a better tutelage in the school of 
adversity, Governor Humphreys was several times during the ses- 
sion constrained to interpose the executive veto of measures that 
sought extrication of the people from the meshes of a hard fate 
by devious and dubious methods. The first of such devices to 
encounter the veto was an excessive exemption act; which was 
vetoed as "retrospective, affecting debts already contracted and 
the lien judgments already obtained," etc. It was thus declared 
"in violation of that clause of the constitution wdiich forbids the 
passage of ex-post facto laws, and laws involving the obligation 
of contracts." The bill was passed over x the executive veto. 
Another of the measures of a policy which the Governor opposed 
was "an act to provide for the valuation of property and in re- 
lation to mortgages and trust deeds." As recited in the executive 
disapproval, "it entitles the judgment debtor to have his property 
valued by three disinterested persons and the sheriff is forbidden 
to sell unless he gets a bid two-thirds of the appraised value," 
etc.; "which violates the obligation of the contract and is ex- 


Mississippi Historical Society. 

pressly forbidden by the constitution." This veto was sustained. 

The main clash between the executive and the legislature was 
over a "stay law"; styled "an act to modify the collection laws 
of the state," the paramount issue of the session. It sought to 
stay collections of debts until January 1st, 18GS. The Governor 
prefaced his veto with the relation that "the dislocation and ruin 
affecting all classes of our people resulting from a suspension of 
all the industrial and productive pursuits of life, the waste and 
destruction of property during four years of war, and the blight- 
ing influence brought to bear upon the labor of the country fur- 
nish an appeal to the magnanimous forbearance and indulgence 
of creditors that cannot be disregarded or treated by them with 
indifference." A cogent argument against the policy of the 
measure was followed by the contention that there was clearly a 
conflict between the provisions of the bill, and the provisions of 
the constitution ; passages from both sustaining the contention be- 
ing quoted. The close of the message, which stated the Gov- 
ernor's policy for surmounting the hard environments of the 
times is quoted: "The surest means of protecting both society and 
individuals from financial inflations, revulsion and insolvency, is 
to maintain the stability of the law and the prompt enforcement 
of the terms of contract ; and the debtor will more certainly find 
his best interests subserved in a full and fair adjustment with his 
creditor than at the end of 'valuation laws/ or 'redemption laws/ 
'exemption laws/ or 'stay laws/ with the accumulation of inter- 
est, court costs and lawyers' fees." 

Failing in a two-thirds vote to pass the bill over the Governor's 
veto, a reconsideration was moved. And on a subsequent day 
it was passed and enacted. While there was a strong and clam- 
orous class in favor of the bill, the press almost unanimously, and 
the best thought of the public, upheld the Governor and con- 
demned the legislature in this matter. After half a dozen dis- 
trict court trials, presided over by the ablest judges, had decided 
the act unconstitutional, the High Court of Error and Appeals 
gave the famous Stay law its coup de grace; and an admiring 
legion of friends gave Governor Humphreys the sobriquet, "Old 
Veto" which he bore to his honored grave. 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 27 

The committee on state and federal relations submitted a 
lengthy report upon the merits of the direct tax levied by con- 
gress in 1861, of which the sum of ,$±13,084.66 was charged 
against Mississippi. By the provisions of the act this was laid on 
the landed values. At the time a revenue official was engaged 
upon the land rolls, for assessing and serving notice -of the levy 
on delinquents in the state. At the end of the legislative report 
it was recommended that congress and the President be memorial- 
ized for relief from payment of the tax. . If this was denied, a 
number of ameliorations, among others "that the state might be 
allowed to assume, collect and pay the amount justly due — were 
submitted. It was shown that the tax was not only unconsti- 
tutional, but a cruel hardship upon a sorely distressed people. 
"The mode of assessment," it was urged, "is not just. The value 
of the lands and improvements at a period prior to 1861 is made 
the standard. Then we had an industrious population of labor- 
ers, identified with the soil, cared for by their masters, lending 
wealth to the state and her lands, but now turned loose from la- 
bor. Two hundred millions of property have been suddenly 
taken from the state. Waste and ruin met the eye throughout 
our former richest agricultural regions. Land values in 1860 
at high prices are now worth little or nothing. * * * The 
actual poverty of the people will necessitate the forfeiture and 
sale of a large portion of the lands, if the tax is imposed." "Surely 
congress," recited the petition, "will listen to an appeal for jus- 
tice, sympathy and liberality." But congress was made of 
"sterner stuff" — the petition transmitted through commissioners 
appointed by the Governor, met with a merciless silence. The 
amount was assessed and payment demanded of land owners. 
While the collection of the tax was suspended, though many citi- 
zens paid their assessments, it was not enforced because of a 
movement to have the tax generally repealed. And years af- 
terward this "raid on the treasury" was effective. Millions were 
paid back to the Northern states, and with it the sixty or seventy 
thousands collected from tax payers of this state were refunded. 

The legislature also memorialized congress for repeal of the 
"act to prescribe an oath of office and for other purposes, adopted 

28 Mississippi Historical Society. 

as one of the measures deemed necessary for carrying on the 
war." It was argued that there was no "policy or necessity for 
continuing a severe and sweeping war measure, when the neces- 
sity which called it into existence had passed away/' 

The President was asked to exercise clemency toward Jefferson 
Davis and other prominent citizens in imprisonment and banish- 
ment. The following is quoted: 

"Vengeance cannot be a proper right arm of any people or 
earthly power. 'Vengeance is mine and I will repay, saith the 
Lord/ Vindication of national power is not now needed when 
the sword has so terribly accomplished that work, nor are further 
examples necessary to prevent a recurrence of the late civil strife. 
A land reddened with blood, houses demolished and devastated, 
cities and towns with little left but blackened, broken and empty 
walls; fields once rich with harvest now waste and barren are 
sufficiently eloquent for that purpose. And if punishment is 
needed for future safety, on our people it should be visited and 
not vicariously." 

A motion to re-incorporate the Delta counties and parts of 
counties into a levee district failed. The people did not feel able 
to rebuild and repair the levees which had been greatly damaged 
during the four years of war. Broken and washed by floods, 
and cut by the Union troops, and with a million dollars of floating 
debts, it was beginning the work for overflow protection anew. 
Only the counties of Bolivar, Washington and Issaquena were 
undismayed by the task. They were incorporated in the levee 
district still known and operated under the Board of Mississippi 
Levee Commissioners. 

A needed and timely act was that creating "county courts." It 
was composed of the probate judge as ex-offlcio presiding judge, 
and two justices of the peace. Such courts were given criminal 
and civil jurisdiction, inferior to the circuit courts. Otherwise, 
except the grand jury and district attorney were dispensed with, 
they had the same powers and authority and proceeded under 
laws, rules and practice. They held court once a month in the 
court house. It was a court of record and given jurisdiction over 
appeals from justices of the peace and mayors of cities. The 

Mississippi's Provisional Government— McNcily. 29 

clerk of the circuit court was made ex-officio clerk of the county 
courts. Such a tribunal was a wise institution for the times, one 
which it would have been good policy to have perpetuated. 

Among other laws of more or less importance was one for a re- 
organization of the state militia. This was designed as a perma- 
nent substitute for the volunteer force established by -Governor 
Sharkey, and which consisted of about 5,000 men, in near a hun- 
dred companies. It was thought that with an efficient and suf- 
ficient force, one that could be relied upon for enforcement of 
law and order and protection from possible race clashes, the Fed- 
eral troops would be withdrawn. Under that view, in the en- 
suing election for regimental officers, men who commanded pop- 
ular trust and confidence were sought out as candidates. Twenty 
per cent of the state revenue was allotted under adequate provi- 
sions for the support of the wounded and disabled soldiers, the 
education of the indigent children of deceased soldiers and the 
general relief of their families. An act was passed for supply- 
ing the maimed soldiers with artificial legs, which the superin- 
tendent of army records was empowered to secure. The name 
of the county of Jones, which had acquired an unenviable reputa- 
tion as a chief rendezvous in its wilds of a swarm of Confederate 
deserters who sought to escape from service in that section of the 
state, was changed to Davis. Provision was made for sending 
commissioners to Washington pursuant to a message from the 
Governor, "to act in connection with the congressional delegation 
from the state in laying before the President and congress the 
condition in regard to the colored troops in our midst and the dan- 
ger of insurrectionary movement among the freedmen, to secure 
if possible the removal of the colored troops, and procure arms 
for the state militia." In addition such delegation was directed to 
urge the remission of the direct tax, and the repeal of the test 
oath as applicable to minor officers. As such commission Gov- 
ernor Humphreys appointed Hon. Wm. Yerger, of Jackson ; Hon. 
Joel M. Acker, of Monroe, and Hon. James Brown, of Lafay- 
ette. A resolution was adopted expressing "the confidence of 
the legislature in the administration of Andrew Johnson.'' 

Be it Resolved by the Senate, (the House of Representatives 
concurring) That the Legislature of the State of Mississippi ex- 

30 Mississippi Historical Society. 


presses its confidence in the administration of Andrew Johnson, 
President of the United States, so far as his public course has 
been developed in endeavoring to restore the people of the South- 
ern States to their constitutional relations to, and equal rights in, 
the Union ; to the benefit which may flow from their participation 
in the councils of a re-union of States. 

I It acknowledges his honesty of purpose, his firmness and deter- 
mination, which thus far has marked his official career; and it ex- 
tends to him the assurance that his patriotic and noble efforts to 
heal the wounds of the country and restore the Southern States 
to equality, representation and prosperity, meets its sanction and 

Resolved further, That the Legislature of this State thank Pres- 
ident Johnson for the various acts of official clemency and kind- 
ness he has shown the people ; and that they look forward with 
an abiding hope, but an equally anxious solicitude, for that happy 
day when a general amnesty to one and all shall crown his name 
with unfading honor, and enable the people of a common country 
to hold a common rejoicing. 

Resolved further, That a copy of these resolutions be transmit- 
ted, through his Excellency, the Governor of Mississippi, to the 
President of the United States. 
\ / 

When the legislature met the state treasury was quite plethoric, 
with Confederate money and bonds, besides state bonds and scrip 
of various kinds, "planters bank, coupons and notes," "state 
notes, new and old issue," "treasury notes," "change warrants." 
The real resources in the treasury was $90,000 paid over by Gov- 
ernor Sharkey from taxes he levied and collected. Several hun- 
dred thousands of dollars had been loaned various railroads be- 
fore the war upon the security of their deposits of bonds and cer- 
tificates. With characteristic thrift and foresight these railroads 
had secured the state's agreement to a liquidation of the debt, 
under an act passed in 1SG3, in the inflated currency of the Con- 
federacy and the state. They had thus obtained possession of 
the obligations given in security for the debt. The settlement 
was now disclaimed and it was made the duty of the Governor 
to demand a return of the railroad securities and obligations of 
these laws which had been returned to them without "just and 
legal compensation," and if the demand for return of the securi- 
ties, etc., was refused, the attorney general was directed to bring 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 31 

suit for the amounts of the said loans. The August conven- 
tion had first refused to ratify the act under which payment of 
the railroad debts to the state in state treasury notes was author- 
ized. The courts sustained the state's claims against the rail- 

To raise a revenue for defraying the expense of the state gov- 
ernment the moderate tax of one mill on the dollar of valuation 
was assessed on lands, which was less in proportion than the rate 
on other classes in proportion. The discrimination was justified 
by the prostration, the peculiar difficulties and uncertainties of 
cotton growing in a state where this was the predominant interest 
and the basis of all other interests. All trades, callings, etc. — 
none escaped, newspapers and dogs being included — were taxed ; 
specifically on percentage or as privileges. Cotton was assessed a 
dollar a bale, which was not high under the prevailing prices. 
Though the army worm grievously disappointed calculations of 
the total collected, a tax that excited especial dissatisfaction 
was on railroad passengers, who were taxed a half a cent a mile 
of the distance carried. By way of relief, and to clear away the 
rubbish of war, an act was passed remitting all due and unpaid 
taxes for the years 1862, 1863 and 1864. Tax collectors were di- 
rected to pay over all collections in hand for these years and close 
the books on all delinquents. The remission included promis- 
sory notes and due bills for unpaid taxes. 

Historically the most memorable act of this session of the leg- 
islature was the rejection of the 13th amendment and the report 
of the committee setting forth the reasons therefor. The ques- 
tion was thus submitted by Governor Humphreys : 

I respectfully recommend that section I of article XIII be 
adopted, if for no other reason to put it beyond the power of 
Mississippi to establish slavery or involuntary servitude except as 
a punishment for crime, and that the 2d section be rejected as its 
adoption will open the door to that wide range of construction 
that would centralize in the Federal Government all the powers 
of government intended by the framers of the Constitution to be 
"reserved to the people." 

B. G. Humphreys, 

Governor of Miss. 


Mississippi Historical Society. 

Mississippi was the first of the "states lately in rebellion" to 
act upon the amendment which proposed to make authoritative 
and final the emancipation of the slaves, and as the only state to 
reject the same, it is just and important to incorporate this able 
and far-sighted committee report in all history of the action 
taken. It is here given in full as submitted in' the representa- 
tive house by the Hon. H. F. Simrall for the committee : 

"The joint committee on state and Federal relations to which 
was referred the message of the Governor and accompanying 
documents . . . having reference to the adoption of an 
amendment to the constitution of the United States, as article 
XIII proposed by congress on the 1st day of February, 1865, to 
the several state legislatures, which is in the following words: 

Article 13 — Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servi- 
tude, except as punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have 
been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any 
place subject to their jurisdiction. 

Sec. 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this /article by 
appropriate legislation. 

yThey report that, after a careful consideration of the subject, 
they have come to the following views : 

The first and main section of the article has already been 
adopted by Mississippi, in so far as her territory and people are 

It was substantially and almost in terms incorporated into the 
State constitution by the late convention. Now is it possible for 
the State by any act, or in any mode, conventional or otherwise, 
to change the status fixed by the convention ? The f reedmen 
could not by subsequent constitutional amendment be enslaved. 
The provision of the federal Constitution having reference to the 
foreign slave trade, and the laws of Congress passed upon the sub- 
ject, prohibit the importation of negroes from Africa, or else- 
where, so that, as the matter now stands, it is impossible to re- 
establish or re-introduce slavery here, or elsewhere in the south. 

The late State constitutional amendment was adopted in per- 
fect good faith. The people have accepted it, and will adhere, 
to it in the like spirit. Under no circumstances can the persons 
who were lately slaves be again enslaved. The adoption of the 
proposed amendment as Article XIII can have no practical op- 
eration in the State of Mississippi. The absolute freedom of 
the African race is already assured here. It is an accomplished 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McXcily. 33 

fact. The second section is subject to more grave objections. 
It confers on Congress the power to enforce the article by "ap- 
propriate legislation." Slavery having been already ^abolished, 
there is really no necessity for this section, nor can the commit- 
tee anticipate any possible good that can result from its adoption. 
On the contrary, it seems to be fraught with evils which this 
legislature and the people of the State of Mississippi are most 
anxious to guard against. Slavery may be regarded as extinct 
everywhere in the United States. At this moment it legally ex- 
ists nowhere, except in Kentucky and Delaware. It is there tot- 
tering to its fall. Its continuance must very soon cease. 

Whatever may be the sentiments and preferences of those 
States, it is quite certain that slavery cannot be perpetuated 
there, liberation having obtained everywhere else. The pro- 
posed amendment is not needed, then, to coerce Kentucky and 
Delaware into emancipation. 

It is the anxious desire of the people of Mississippi to with- 
draw the negro race from national and State politics ; to quiet for- 
ever all subjects and questions connected with it, and, so far as 
forecast and precaution can do so. to forestall and prevent the 
outbreak of agitation hereafter. 

The committee cannot anticipate what construction future 
Congresses may put on this section. It may be claimed that it 
would be "appropriate" for Congress to legislate in respect to 
freedmen in the State. This committee can hardly conceive of 
a more dangerous grant of power than one which, by construc- 
tion, might admit federal legislation in respect to persons deni- 
zens and inhabitants of the State. ' 

If there be no danger now, the committee fear the time may 
come that the public mind might be influenced on this subject to 
the degree of endangering the reserved rights of the States. 

The committee are also of the opinion that the present is not 
a propitious time to enlarge the powers of the federal govern- 
ment. The tendency is already too strong in the direction of 
consolidation. The liberties of the people, and the preservation 
of the complex federative system, would be better insured by 
confining the federal and State governments in the respective 
spheres already defined for them. 

It would be unwise and inexpedient to open a subject which 
your committee had believed extinct, as themes for radicals and 
demagogues to use to the detriment of the best interests of the 
country. Mississippi cannot give her deliberate consent to 
leave open any question from which agitation can ari-e, calcu- 
lated to disturb the harmony so happilv being restored among, 

34 Mississippi Historical Society. 

the States and the people. This section may be interpreted to 
refer to Congress to judge what legislation may be appropriate. 
It is so uncertain and indefinite that it cannot be conjectured what 
congressional action may be deemed "appropriate" in the ex- 
tremes to which parties have gone and may henceforth go. It 
is the common interest of the people in all quarters of the Union, 
now that vexed questions connected with the negro race are all 
merged and settled in liberation, that the public mind should be 
withdrawn from anything unpleasant and irritating in the past, 
and the door be as effectively closed as human wisdom can de- 
vise against future agitation and disturbance from this cause. 
The committee are apprehensive that if this second section be in- 
corporated in the Constitution, radicals and extremists will fur- 
ther vex and harrass the country on the pretension that the free- 
dom of the colored race is not perfect and complete until it is 
elevated to a social and political equality with the white. The 
tendency of the section is to absorb in the federal government 
the reserved rights of the State and people, to unsettle the equi- 
librium of the States in the Union, and to break down the effi- 
cient authority and sovereignty of the State over its internal and 
domestic affairs. In any aspect of the subject, this section is 
unproductive of good, and may be fruitful of most serious evils. 

Connected as the first section of the proposed article is with 
t\ie second, and both being included in the same article as an 
amendment to the Constitution, and a ratification of the first, 
and a rejection of the second, being, as your committee think, 
inoperative and of non effect — 

Resolved, therefore, by the legislature of. the State of Mississ- 
ippi, That it refuses to ratify the proposed amendment of the 
Constitution of the United States. 

Adopted by the house of representatives November 27, 1865. 

Concurred in by the senate December 2, 1865. 

The wisdom and the logic no less than the courage and the can- 
dor of statesmanship of this report will stand approved in all 
thoughtful judgment. Nor was the attitude taken founded solely 
upon the abstract argument, pointing out the "grave objections 
to the second section." Notes of warning that these "objections" 
were not alone possible but actually designed had been borne to 
Southern ears from the mutter ings of the storm that was brew- 
ing in the North. As a circumstance of proof of the design of 
the second section, the following from a report of a speech by 


Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 35 

Senator Wilson, of Massachusetts,, at Yonkers in the New York 
campaign in October, 1865, is cited: 

"The senator denied that the Democrats supported President 
Johnson's policy. Did they support the constitutional amend- 
ment? No man was stronger in favor of that than the presi- 
dent. There was a great deal in that amendment. It author- 
ized congress, by appropriate legislation, to make the emanci- 
pated slaves in all respects citizens of the United States. (Ap- 
plause.) That amendment would be adopted by the requisite 
number of states and congress would make the freedmen really 
freedmen. (Applause.) We can, under that constitutional pro- 
vision, declare null and void all the black code legislation of any 
of the states of the Union." 

The quoted passage is taken from the Vicksburg Herald of No- 
vember 1. It was delivered — with its menace of usurping the 
power of the state under the warrant of the constitutional amend- 
ment — about the date of the assembly of the Mississippi legisla- 
ture. It was a clear forecast of the reconstruction policy of the 
radicals, before any "black code" had been passed or even pro- 
posed; tl^us affording contradiction of the claifn so commonly 
made that the said code caused the negro equality policy to be 
taken up. It is not denied that the action of the Mississippi legis- 
lature furnished pretext, or ammunition, for the Radical leaders 
in the adoption of this policy at the ensuing session of congress. 
But no instigation was needed to that end, which no act of pro- 
pitiation or humiliation would have averted." The radical inten- 
tion was never a secret — after Appomattox it was proclaimed 
from the housetops. 

In the meantime the South Carolina legislature had met. It, 
too, balked at ratifying the 13th amendment with its sinister sec- 
ond section. Reporting the hitch to the President, Gov. Perry 
was informed in a communication from Secretary of State Sew- 
ard that the objection was "querulous and unfounded" — that "it 
was really designed to restrict instead of expand the powers of 
congress." This preposterous explanation was accepted and the 
amendment was ratified almost unanimously by the South Caro- 
lina legislature. The following press comments are taken from 
the Vicksburg Herald of December !; 

36 Mississippi Historical Society. 

"But before the ink gets dry on the dispatch of Mr. Seward to 
South Carolina, the Radical press 'let loose the dogs of war.' 
Says the New York Tribune: The constitutional amendment 
aims at the absolute, unconditional abolition of slavery through- 
out the United States ; but it does not stop here. Hitherto the 
personal liberty and civil rights of each citizen were held and en- 
joyed under the protection of the states respectively; hereafter, 
they are to be upheld and guarded by the nation. Hitherto, a 
state might cruelly oppress any portion of her own people ; here- 
after, congress is charged with the duty of protecting in the full 
enjoyment of his liberties each inhabitant of our country, and 
clothed with the power requisite to its fulfilment of this high ob- 
ligation. Ours must henceforth and forever be a Union of free 
states and a nation of freemen, or congress will be grossly delin- 
quent and culpable. Gov. Perry's objection to the second sec- 
tion of the constitutional amendment may, indeed, have been 
'querulous and unreasonable,' since it is unwise, to resist the in- 
evitable, or to object to the strongest possible guarantee of indi- 
vidual and general liberty; but we cannot regard his construc- 
tion of the great amendment as strained or illogical. If congress 
shall forbear to 'legislate for the negroes/ or for others, it will 
so forbear simply because the states act so wisely and justly that 
no further legislation is needed." 


The Philadelphia Press says: 

The reluctance of the original seceders to sanction this dras- 
tic and searching amendment, illustrated in the South Carolina 
legislation, a few days ago, was produced by the fair construc- 
tion given to the second section of the new article. The South 
Carolina leaders saw that their slaves were not only set free by 
the constitutional amendment, but that congress was empowered 
to legislate to 'enforce' the universal decree. They were not 
misled by the absurd theory, born of some weak or scheming 
brain, that under the second section they could apply to congress 
for remuneration or compensation for their "property!" The 
legislation of congress is to "enforce" abolition — to perfect 
emancipation — not to pay the old slave masters. And, when 
Mr. Seward telegraphed to Governor Perry that his objections 
to this section were "querulous and unfounded," he meant that 
the duty of congress was too plain to require an interpreter. 

Assembled October 16th, 1865, the legislature adjourned De- 
cember 6th. It was subjected to a great deal of criticism and 
censure, which was not altogether undeserved. But some news- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 37 

papers were vituperative and denunciatory, which was not de- 
served. There could be no question of patriotic and unselfish 
intent. All judgment of the legislative record to be just must 
consider that the task to which the members were summoned 
was arduous and perplexing beyond all that had gone- before or 
that has come since. And that it was performed under the gaze. 
of eyes that, at home, were over inconsiderate and fault finding; 
and in the North hostile, invidious and distrustful. 

It was not to be expected the legislature would escape severe 
criticism; especially in the passage of laws known as the black 
code. These were waved as a red flag by the Radicals in the 
faces of the Northern people yet raw with the passions of war. 
In the North judgment was untempered by knowledge of the 
situation with which the legislature was dealing. In the South 
censure was bestowed not because the restrictive provisions were 
not justified by the besetting environments, but the justification 
was outweighed, the critics held, by the urgent necessity of pro- 
pitiating the implacables at the North. One section especially 
has been misunderstood and misjudged. This was the provision 
prohibiting f reedmen from leasing "lands or tenements except in 
incorporated towns or cities in which places the corporate authori- 
ties shall control the same." At this chaotic period no other 
labor stipulation was in vogue except for money wages, clothing 
and rations ; cropping on shares and renting land was quite un- 
known as yet. No credit system had been devised by which 
planting could be carried on under a rental or tenant adjustment. 
It was with extreme difficulty that the land owners could make 
arrangements for securing the aid necessary to growing a crop. 
Moreover,.in many counties the towns and the highways swarmed 
with vagrants. The intent of the provision placing negroes in 
the towns under surveillance and control was to effect their re- 
turn to farm homes and vocations. This was the policy of the 
military and the bureau as well as the state. It was a policy that 
would have been thwarted by a congregation of negro "renters" 
of farm lands with the certain result of nests of idleness and 
thieving. It was this condition the law sought to meet. It 
seemed consistent with the policy stated. In the address of Gen- 

38 Mississippi Historical Society. 

eral Howard, commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau, at Vicks- 
burg, referred to in a previous chapter, the following is quoted 
from the Vicksburg Herald report: 

"After recounting how he (the speaker,) had risen by hard la- 
bor and continuous effort from the position of -a poor farm boy 
.to the one he now fills, and telling the blacks to emulate his ex- 
ample, he advised them to go fairly and honestly to work for 
their old masters. As long as they were the land owners, the 
colored people must reconcile themselves to this state of affairs, 
and labctt industriously for the wages their former masters were 
able to give. The General urged this point very strongly, be- 
cause he considered it right." 

In an address to the negroes of Jefferson county, reported in 
the Fayette Chronicle, Major Free, of the bureau, "advised the 
negroes to remain at home and make contracts for twenty, ten 
or even five dollars per month, rather than congregate about 
towns and cities." 

The furor raised by the rent prohibition of the law "to con- 
fer civil rights on freedmen," etc., reached Washington. The 
following appeared in the Vicksburg Herald, December 1st : 

"The following is a copy of a dispatch, furnished us from the 
bureau office: 

"By Telegraph. 

" 'Washington, Nov. 30, I860. 
To Col. Sam'l Thomas : 

While the Bureau remains in Mississippi, you will continue 
to protect the freedmen in the right to lease lands. The act of 
legislature referred to in your telegram of the 27th hist, is not 
recognized here. 

" 'By order of 

" 'Maj. Gen. O. O. Howard.' 

"Another dispatch was also received, covering an order from 
the Secretary of War, directing investigation to be made in all 
cases where freedmen are arrested for violating the law above 
referred to, and to report the facts to Washington, in order that 
prompt redress may be afforded." The military also forbade 
the statutory provision that "the penal laws defining offenses 
and providing the mode of punishment' for crimes and misde- 
meanors by slaves shall remain in full force except so far as the 

ti i 

a i 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 39 

mode and manner of trial and punishment had been changed or 
altered by law." 

Vain as was their aim, intolerable in the means of effecting it 
to those who held control of Southern destiny, who had other 
and wholly conflicting designs upon the emancipated race, there 
is the most overwhelming proof in the subsequent course of 
events, that while the fight of those who, in 1SG5, sought to guard 
the negroes from the dangers of vagrancy and disease await- 
ing them, may have been impracticable, they were under no de- 
lusions as to the evils and dangers unchained by emancipation. 
Race vitality and crime statistics of the ensuirig years have proved 
the truth of their apprehensions. The terrible progress of 
moral decay is confirmed in the following severe indictment pub- 
lished in the Globe Quarterly Review, of December, 1897, by Wil- 
liam H. Thorn, an original abolitionist and a noted writer of the 
Sumner-Garrison school : "During the spring of the year 1S95, 
and after more than thirty years of sincere and old-fashioned 
abolition sympathy with the negro race, I made two visits to sev- 
eral of our Southern states, with the result as follows: 

First — All my old abolition sympathy, which had been weak- 
ened for over ten years in view of the insufferable self-assertion 
of our negroes since the day of their emancipation, vanished like 
so many scattered sophistries, for which I had no further use. 

Second — On returning to New York I published in the next 
issue of the Globe Review my conviction that, spite of emancipa- 
tion and our so-called education of the negro — and perhaps aided 
by these absurdities— the negroes of this country were more than 
ever a shiftless, unteachable, immoral race, incapable of any true 
civilization in our land, and unworthy of American citizenship. 

Third — That without mincing matter^, or any longer writing 
or thinking on the basis of sympathy with the negro, I was con- 
vinced that inside the next thirty years the South would be 
obliged to "re-enslave, kill or export the bulk of its negro popu- 

Dr. J. F. Ohl, a member of the executive committee of the 
Pennsylvania prison society published a paper in March, 1904, 
which in substance advocates a black code. He said: 

40 Mississippi Historical Society. 

"It is true that the negro is more prone to crime than the white 
man, especially to those crimes directed against white persons. 
I do not attempt to account for the cause of this, but we have the 
results to deal with, and they are quite enough. We strike a 
difficulty at the outset because we cannot distinguish against 
color. We cannot act under two separate laws. 

I am not a believer to such an -extent as some people in the 
deterrent theory, but in the case of the negro it seems to be ef- 
fective. The theory is practically the infliction of such severe 
punishment as will deter others from similar crimes. There is. 
I believe, more fear in the negro than in the white man. It is 
very possible that heavy penalties may have more influence in 
deterring the negro from committing crime than it would with 
his white brother. 

In this view of the case I say again I believe that the maxi- 
mum punishment should in almost every case be inflicted. The 
real object of punishment is the protection of society, and when 
it is found that a person is not safe to society when he is at lib- 
erty he ought to be permanently segregated from society. This 
applied not only to the negro race, but to the habitual criminal 
of any race. 

In my work in the eastern penitentiary I have met negroes 
who said they never intended to work, even when their term of 
imprisonment was over, and when liberated would return to their 
habits, which would lead nowhere, but to a prison's doors. Such 
men as these should be confined permanently. They are a per- 
manent menace to society. Negroes should not be allowed to 
aspire to an equality with the whites. So far as I know of con- 
ditions in the South, a great deal of the crime there today is due 
to the fact that negroes are left too much to themselves and be- 
come loafers, as it were." 

The "black code," which was not half so black as these North- 
ern judgments, may not be claimed as a perfect work of states- 
men. But it is to be defended from the indiscriminate condem- 
nation it has received. It was enacted but as an expedient 
to meet the emergencies of a calamitous and chaotic condi- 
tion. Profoundly impressed and oppressed by environments 
both perilous and perplexing, the 1865 legislature discharged 
its duty according to its lights. No other representative body 
was ever charged with such an intricate and Herculean task, as 
that confronting the black code authors. They were reprobated 
and reproached because they did not grow figs from thistles. 
They knew as their judges neither knew nor cared, the nature of 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McXcily. 41 

the negro and the blending of good and evil, of strength and 
weakness in the race. According to their knowledge and their 
environments, they wrought to preserve the virtues and guard 
against the vices of the race, by restriction to agricultural pur- 
suits and settled homes, and repression of roving and vagrant in- 
stinct that led to idleness, disease and crime. That the laws to 
that end read harsh and repugnant is undeniable. But the true 
test of their wisdom is comprised in the question of their neces- 
sity — was the evil guarded against real, and would any less re- 
strictive provisions have met it? In the distemper of the times 
just principle was lost sight of. Indiscriminate denunciation 
served the ends of the radicals. And because of its uses as a 
political handle by the enemies of the South, the race legislation 
was loaded down by the reproaches of her friends. It has been 
charged that the "black code" invited, if it did not justify, the 
reconstruction wrath to come — that by not doing things deemed 
essential to the welfare of the state, the poisonous fangs of radi- 
calism would have been drawn. The annals of the times yield 
the most abundant contradiction to this verdict" of "hind sight" 
wisdom. They show that it was decreed for the south to pass 
under the rod — to walk through the shadows of the valley of 
desolation. War but cleared the decks for a bitter and relent- 
less struggle over the consequential and far reaching question 
of the freedman's status in the ranks of citizenship. Such a 
struggle was as inevitable as the war itself, and those who cen- 
sure the men called to the helm for heading the ship of state to 
a port beset by breakers, must shut their eyes to the devouring 
tempest behind them. It was literally a choice between the devil 
and the deep sea. 

Thus has the "black code" been blackened in history — a preju- 
dicial and perverted judgment entered up against a patriotic if 
not wholly wise effort of adjustment of the emancipated slave 
population to the social and industrial life of the state. Ignor- 
ant of the nature and necessities of an utterly abnormal and 
wholly unprecedented social condition, many friendly to the 
South judged the measures designed by the most conservative 
citizens as framed in blindness of consequences. So. true a 

4% Mississippi Historical Society. 

friend as Congressman S. S. Cox, in his "Three decades of Fed- 
eral legislation," pronounced it "surprising that the intelligent 
men of Mississippi could have persuaded themselves after the 
terrible experience through which they had passed, that the pre- 
dominant North would for a moment tolerate this new slave 
code. It was owing to this sort of legislation that Mr. John- 
son's policy of conciliation was defeated." That "this sort of 
legislation was used" to defeat the President's policy is true. 
But no dispassioned study of the times can resist the conclusion 
that the policy was doomed whatever legislation might have been 
adopted. This fact is virtually recognized by Mr. Cox, who 
says, speaking of a previous period, "that the radicals were de- 
termined to make the South the stronghold of their party." His 
theory of cause and. effect became nevertheless very popular, af- 
ter Mr. Johnson's policy had been defeated, and many have been 
led to believe that Cerberus might have been appeased with a sop. 
Written nearly twenty years after, the central purpose of Jas. 
G. Blaine's "Twenty Years in. Congress" is to excuse the Repub- 
lican party from the crime of reconstruction, by making out a 
case against the "black code," to establish that but for race leg- 
islation of 1865, congress would never have imposed negro suf- 
frage on the Southern states. In this dishonesty Mr. Blaine's 
own words convict him of playing the wolf that accused the lamb 
of making muddy water flow up stream. Writing of the Presi- 
dent's break with his party, he said : "At this period the Presi- 
dent did not contemplate a break with the Republican party. 
* * * He seemed to have no comprehension 6f the fact that 
with inconsiderable exceptions the entire party was composed of 
Radicals, men who in aim and sympathy were hostile to the pur- 
pose indicated in his policy." This is taken from Mr. Blaine's 
comment upon President Johnson's letter to Governor Sharkey, 
August 14th, urging the adoption by the Mississippi convention 
of a restricted form of negro suffrage, on which subject the 
writer said the "radicals were wild." "At this period," which 
was months before a "black code' 1 had been proposed or enacted, 
the essential difference between the President and the Radicals 
was negro suffrage. Moreover, the plea of the black code as a 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily, 43 

justification for legislation that was had in 1867 is stultified by 
the fact that not only were the black code proscriptions annulled 
by military order as soon as they were published, but as far as 
congress could, all legal distinction between the races, except the 
suffrage, was swept away by the civil rights act of 1866 ; which 
was even construed to annul state laws against race Intermar- 
riage. Acting under the order of the War Department, already 
noted, Gen. T. J. Woods issued the following general order of 
prohibition against the "black code'' January 30th, 1866 : 

"To prevent misapprehension and to remove all occasion for 
any conflict of authority between the military and civil function- 
aries, the attention of all commanding officers is specially di- 
rected to the following extract from General Orders, No. 3, W r ar 
Department, current series: 

" 'And also protecting colored persons from prosecutions in 
any of said states charged with offences for which white persons 
are not prosecuted or punished in the same manner and degree/ 

"In conformity with the directions contained in the foregoing 
extract, no prosecutions will be allowed in this department 
against colored j>ersons for offences for which white persons are 
not prosecuted or punished in the same manner and degree." 

While the laws made no prejudicial discrimination, on its face 
there could be no objection to an order such as the above. At 
the same time it is easy to see how it could be used as a cloak of 
spite and persecution. And so it proved — wherever there was a 
post commander in sympathy with the radical policy, the author- 
ity conferred under this order was abused. Under its warrant 
laws were annulled and the jurisdiction of the civil authorities 
overridden at will. There was such an epauletted nuisance in 
Vicksburg, Col. Van E. Young. Under the county court law 
whipping posts were set up for certain cases, such as incorrigi- 
bility in petty misdemeanors. It was not alleged that there was 
any discrimination here — that white persons were not "prosecuted 
or punished in the same manner and degree as negroes." Never- 
theless a peremptory prohibitory order was issued against whip- 
ping, and for "the tying up post to be taken down at once." In 
censuring the post commander for not prohibiting discrimination 
instead of nullifying the law, The Herald stated that "the very 

** Mississippi Historical Society. 

first case punished by the Warren county court was a white boy, 
who was tied up." Presuming beyond tolerance, Col. Young 
sent through the commander at Jackson, Gen. Osterhaus, an in- 
solent communication to Governor Humphreys asking, in fact 
demanding, the reprieve of a certain negro; who had been con- 
victed of murdering another negro and sentenced to be hung. 
The Governor handed the letter back to Gen. Osterhaus with the 
statement that "the communication of this man is so insulting to 
the people of Mississippi and so disrespectful to the state and her 
chief executive, that he could notice it. But if a decent man 
would send him a request for a reprieve he would consider it. 
Thereupon Col. Young took the negro murderer from the sheriff 
and confined him in a guard house where he "escaped." Or as 
The Herald said, "it is presumed the guard turned him out." 
Editorially The Vicksburg Herald of March 27th called upon 
Gen. Wood, "who has the full confidence of our people as a man 
of honor and justice, to investigate Col. Young's conduct." 

It is due the truth to say that Colonel Young was an exception 
to the rule of our military rulers, from Gens. Wood and Oster- 
haus, down to the lower grades. Appreciating him as a calm, 
just, courageous executive, and drawn to him as a soldier of ap- 
proved valor, all held Governor Humphreys in highest respect. 
Upon the occasion of a visit from him to Vicksburg The Herald 
had the following: "The officers of the United States army 
(regulars) paid their respects to Governor Humphreys, yester- 
day, at the Prentiss House. They were headed by General Dud- 
ley, and appeared in full uniform. Among the gentlemen pres- 
ent were Colonel John Moore, medical director of the depart- 
ment of Mississippi; Assistant Surgeon Greenleaf ; Majors Nor- 
ton, Ritter; Catlin, Woodward; Captains Potter and Brown; 
Lieutenants Holbrook, Sanderson, Gray, Williams, Hedberg, 
Haller and Beach." 

The just and courageous assumption and discharge of the deli- 
cate, perplexing and difficult duties of his position by Mississ- 
ippi's Confederate Brigadier Governor, justified the following 
tribute from the Louisville Journal, edited by the gifted and fa- 
mous George D. Prentice: 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 45 

The eminently wise and patriotic course of Governor Hum- 
phreys has done more than anything else, to benefit Mississippi. 
Elected from the late Confederate States army and from the 
proscribed classes, he has proved that the Southern soldiers are 
the truest and purest in their professions of loyalty. His able 
inaugural and patriotic messages to the Legislature are fresh in 
the recollection of the people. 

To return to the Black codes : Whether wise or unwise, it 
cannot be denied that the legislation so styled was, largely if not 
wholly, meant to preserve the negro from the evil tendencies al- 
ready marked, of town settlements, the vices such as vagrancy 
and petty criminality incident to it ; by keeping them on the farm 
to conserve their as yet unimpaired habits of industry, physical 
vigor and freedom from the taints of certain diseases. Thrown 
into a state of consternation from the blasts of denunciation, 
borne down to us upon the northern breezes, the timid and the 
time servers set up and echoed the outcry against the black code. 
It has been handed down by writers of the I-told-you-so order, 
who sought a scapegoat after the South was placed on the re- 
construction rack, when the facts of history and the light of rea- 
son all show, it was for no light or fleeting cause that Mississ- 
ippi knowingly drew the fire of sectional and partisan hate. 
Even Southern men have been so illogical as to contend that the 
refusal of the legislature to accord the negro full and restricted 
rights was due alone to the prejudices and traditions, which con- 
stituted the fabric of Southern society. This is only true in part. 
Beneath the "traditions and the prejudices" there was the bed 
rock of race purity and white supremacy on which the black 
codes rested. That a black code was essential in solving the 
emancipation problem, in meeting the difficulties and averting 
the dangers involved, was recognized in Mr. Lincoln's amnesty 
proclamation of December 4th, 1SG3, which is quoted: 

"And I do further proclaim . . . that any provision 
which may be adopted by such state government in relation to 
the freed people of such state which shall recognize and^ declare 
their permanent freedom and provide for their education and 
which may yet be consistent as a temporary arrangement with 
their present' condition as a laboring, landless, and homeless class, 
will not be objected to by the national executive. And it is sug- 


Mississippi Historical Society. 


gested as not improper that in constructing a loyal state govern- 
ment in any state ... the general code of laws as before 
the rebellion be maintained, subject only to the modifications 
made necessary by the conditions heretofore stated, and such 
others, if any, not contravening said conditions and which may 
be deemed expedient by those framing the new state govern- 

It is here shown that the general directions quoted from the 
Lincoln proclamation warranted Mississippi's legislation, as "a 
temporary arrangement," to meet the condition of "the laboring, 
landless, homeless" negro. Nipped in the bud, the black code 
tree is unknown by its fruits. How the unrestricted drift of the 
negro to the towns and cities, which the 1865 legislature sought 
to avert, has worked is known of all men, as a menacing social 
and hygienic problem. 

It is none the less true that the black codes were most effective 
as fuel for "firing the Northern heart" — as texts for the consum- 
mation of the vindictive policy of the radicals, declared even be- 
fore the close of the war. 

That the "black codes" were not, as the Northern people were 
made to believe, enacted for the virtual annulment of the 13th 
amendment is inferentially but emphatically recognized on page 
556 of Rhodes history: "The difficulties of the problem was 
not comprehended in the north." And, "Blaine's account is in- 
accurate and unfair to the South. There is the most abundant 
evidence that the Southern white men might have been safely 
trusted to deal with "the difficulties of the problem." And on 
page 559 : "In my judgment it would have been safe to permit 
the state to work out this problem under the restrictions natur- 
ally arising from the operations of the Freedman's Bureau and 
the military occupation." We have lived to see this view be- 
come universal. The substantial honest intent and good will to- 
ward the negroes is indelibly written in the court records of that 
period. Never thereafter have their rights of possession of 
property been so well guarded. 

A most disturbing element, one that overhung the state as a 
constant menace to peace and order, and exerted a most evil in- 
fluence upon the negro population, had been created through the 

Mississippi's Provisional Government— McAWy. 47 

policy of mustering out the white troops and retaining negro 
of giving pain. Renewing the request for removal of the negro 
garrisons in the state. Governor Sharkey had not only pro- 
tested against this policy, he had raised a militia force for pro- 
tection from the consequences it invited. The August- conven- 
tion had urged removal of negro troops from the state. In a 
communication to Gov. Sharkey, President Johnson said the "gov- 
ernment did not intend to irritate or humiliate the people of the 
South (by the negro garrisons) which seem to be producing so 
much dissatisfaction." This was adding insult to injury. It 
was like applying the thumb screw, and disclaiming the intention 
of giving pain. Renewing the request for removal of the negro 
troops. Governor Humphreys met with a curt and unheeding re- 
buke. Undeterred, he recommended the legislature — which it 
did — "to appoint a delegation to act in coniunction with the. con- 
gressional delegation in laying before President Johnson the 
condition in regard to the presence of colored troops, and the 
danger of insurrectionary movements among the^ f reedmen ; to 
secure, if possible, the removal of the colored troops." Garner's 
Reconstruction in Mississippi, page 105, flippantly reads : "Shar- 
key's successor seems to have regarded the removal of negro 
troops as the chief end of his administration." If admitted was 
there not a cause? Organizing and arming the slaves carried 
possibilities, if not design, of a servile war. Of all the bitter 
memories handed down from evil days, this sank deepest in tht 
Southern heart. For "quenching the smoking flax" of patriot- 
ism, nothing could compare with this. In August all but a few 
hundred white soldiers in the state were mustered out of service 
and sent home. The force of occupation consisted thereafter, 
for nearly a year> of negro regiments to the number of about 
10,000 men, located in detachments in the chief towns of the 
state. An ever present threat to the tranquillity of the country, 
these garrisons were centers of debauchery and demoralization 
of the negro population. Their commanding officers were white 
men. But the company officers were as a rule unsuited to com- 
mand and indifferent to discipline. Frequent brawls and clashes 
kept the public mind in a perpetual state of apprehension of seri- 
ous trouble. Nothing but dread of a recurrence of war with 

48 Mississippi Historical Society. 

the government kept the white men from wiping out the whole 
negro military outfit. It is not strange that this dark chapter 
of the war's aftermath is passed over by Northern writers of the 
post reconstruction period. Few indeed of that day could view it 
with pride. Indeed the only historian of note who defended the 
arming of the slaves, which was only resolved upon when the 
Union cause looked darkest, was James G. Blaine. What he said 
of the "d — d spot that will not out" in his "Twenty Years in Con- 
gress" is quoted, with record contradiction: 

"During the civil war the negro had, so far as he was able, 
helped the Union cause — his race contributing nearly a quarter 
of a million troops to the national service. If the government 
had been influenced by a spirit of inhumanity, it could have made 
him terribly effective by encouraging insurrection and resist- 
ance on his part against his master. But no such policy was 
ever entertained in councils controlled in the cabinet 'by Seward 
and Chase and Stanton, or in operations in the field directed by 
Grant and Sherman and Sheridan. The negro was left to raise 
the crops that supplied the Confederate armies with bread, when 
a policy of cruelty, no worse than that - of Andersonville and 
Belle tfsle, might have made him a terror to the Southern popu- 
lation. The humane policy thus pursued would have been 
scorned by European warriors who have become the heroes of 
the world, but 'there is not a Northern man who does not look- 
back with profound satisfaction upon the philanthropic deter- 
mination that forbade the encouragement of a single insurrec- 
tion, or the destruction of a single Southern life, except under 
the recognized and restricted laws of war." 

What is to be thought of such a boast — of the claim of "phil- 
anthropy," because the government refrained from inciting a 
"servile insurrection," with all the rapine, incendiarism and 
slaughter of non-combatants that the phrase implies? In fact ne- 
gro insurrection within the southern lines was not feared ; no por- 
tion of the South was so remote from her soldiery that any show 
of insurrection would not have been speedily reached and ruth- 
lessly suppressed; as befell one noted attempt. But what more 
encouragement to "a servile war" was wanted, than the emancipa- 
tion proclamation itself, accompanied by the enlistment of negro 
soldiers? As such a dire result could not have been unexpected. 

Mississippi's Provisional Government— McNeily. 49 

even if not planned, in the Lincoln cabinet, -the action taken was 
looked upon as the incitement of "a servile war" both at home 
and abroad. 

Furthermore, in spite of Mr. Blaine's assertion, there were 
many non-combatant "Southern lives destroyed" by negro sol- 
diers. This the War Record, and the local chronicles, before 
and after the close of hostilities, testify to. Murders of white 
citizens by negro soldiers, and sometimes worse than murders, 
were perpetrated in every Southern state; sometimes punished, 
and often not. The bloody raid up Deer Creek, in August, 1863, 
with the wanton murder of the few white men, civilians, that re- 
mained there after the Confederates had all withdrawn, passed 
without rebuke or punishment, from Grant and Sherman. 

The following account of the Deer Creek raid, in August, 18G3, 
was obtained from Col. W. D. Brown, a planter and a gentle- 
man of highest character and respectability, who was near the 
scene at the time: 

"A murderous band of negroes from Haynes' Bluff on the Ya- 
zoo river, made a raid up Deer Creek. The raid \vas not author- 
ized by the military authorities, but was planned by a few blood 
thirsty negroes, intent on murder of the few white citizens then 
resident on the Creek. At the Good Intent plantation (now 
Smedes station) they murdered a Mr. Sims, then the overseer 
or manager of that plantation. Moving up on the west side of 
the Creek they next captured Charles J. Fore, quite an old man, 
who had for many years been the general manager of the sev- 
eral plantations owned by H. R. W. Hill on Lower Deer Creek. 
They did not kill Mr. Fore, but according to my recollection they 
wounded him severely and left him — supposing he w^as dead or 
that he would die. Continuing up on the west side of the Creek 
they came to the home of Mr. Joe Clark, near the head of Nea- 
som Bayou. Mr. Clark was shot to death by them, his wife 
clinging to him and begging for his life in the midst of the vol- 
ley fired into his body and he fell dead in his room in the pres- 
ence of his wife and little children. Continuing northward they 
next came to what is known as the Georgiana plantation, then 
the property of Mr. George F. Short. There they shot to death 
Mr. Johnson, the overseer of the plantation. A little further up 
the Creek they attempted to kill Mr. John M. Clark, but failed 
as the Creek lay between them. Mr. Clark escaped with a bul- 
let hole through his hat. Continuing their raid to the point 

50 Mississippi Historical Society. 

where Rolling Fork is now located, they found an old Irishman 
in charge of the property of an absent owner, but did not molest 
him. There they made inquiry for the writer, whose residence 
was half a mile further up Big Deer Creek. Learning that he 
was absent from home, they turned back toward the Yazoo 

Col. Brown makes this observation, which is eloquent of the 
restraints and the lessons of slavery: "A fact connected with 
these murders which excited no notice at the time, but which is 
very noticeable now, is that these unrestrained demons did not, 
even though nerved to indiscriminate plunder and murder of 
white men, in a single case offer to injure or insult women and 
children." i 

This murderous Deer Creek raid was one of the few actual 
symptoms of "the slave insurrection" mentioned by Gen. Grant. 
A month before a document setting out such "a plan" came into 
the possession of the Confederate government, a part of the mail 
of a steamer captured between Norfolk and New Berne. It de- 
scribed "a plan to induce the blacks to make a concentrated and 
simultaneous movement or rising in the night of August 1st, to 
arm themselves as best they could and commence operations by 
burning railroad and county bridges, tearing up rails, destroy- 
ing telegraph lines, etc. No blood is to be shed except in self 
defense. Intelligent contrabands were to be selected to spread 
the plan and make the rising understood by several hundred 
thousand slaves by the time named." This document, which 
may be read on page 1068 of the War Records, Series I, Volume 
XVIII. , was signed Augustus S. Montgomery and directed to 
Major General Foster, commanding the Department of North 
Carolina. He was assured that it would be communicated "to 
every other department of the seceded states." It was en- 
dorsed, "approved, C. Marshall, Major and Aide de Camp." 
Secretary of War Seddon in sending copies of it to Southern 
governors, wrote: "You will perceive that it dictates a plan of 
a general insurrection of the slaves on August 1st next, and 
while attaching no great importance to the matter, I deem it pru- 
dent to place your excellency in possession of the information." 

The "negro insurrection" was calculated upon no little by 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 51 

Northern political leaders, as an agency in the subjugation of the 
South and the punishment of "rebels." The idea was not 
quenched by John Brown's failure. But it was never a cause 
of serious apprehension in the South, or by the Confederate au- 
thorities. Negro fealty and fear, contempt for their capacity of 
organization, prevented alarm. Dread of the visitations of in- 
dependent companies which operated throughout the river coun- 
try was sufficient to hold the slave population of the plantation 
belt in order. And a few months after the occurrence above re- 
lated, the descent of a small body of Confederates broke up the 
negro camps at Blakeley. 

This sense of security against insurrection by the slave popu- 
lation was rudely disturbed when the policy of arming the negro 
population and organizing them under white officers was an- 
nounced. This did not have the effect announced by President 
Lincoln of at once ending the war. The negro troops, in fact, 
were never looked upon and never proved themselves formid- 
able in battle. But in garrison or on the raid, they "inspired a 
terror," as was foretold by Gen. Grant, that was frequently justi- 
fied at the expense of the non-combatant population. While the 
Deer Creek murders was the most ominous event of the kind, 
there were others that spread fear of the armed bodies of ne- 
groes abroad over the land. In June, 1864, the people of Vicks- 
burg were horrified by an affair thus related in the Herald: 
"John Bobb, a peaceable and unoffending citizen, has been most 
brutally murdered by negro soldiers. Ordering a lot of negroes 
out of his yard, where they were picking flowers, Bobb was 
cursed, abused, and insulted. He knocked down a negro ser- 
geant, when they left vowing revenge. He immediately pro- 
ceeded to headquarters and, after reporting the affair, was prom- 
ised protection by General Slocum. When he went to his home 
some fifteen or twenty negro soldiers, led by a sergeant, arrested 
him and a Mr. Mattingly, who was with him. He was taken 
through the machine shops and 150 rods down the bayou when 
a negro shot him in the back. He fell and another shot struck 
his face. Mattingly ran and was pursued and shot at. Gen. 
Slocum sent one of his staff to ascertain the facts. He found 

52 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Bobbs dead, his distracted wife hanging over his body, sur- 
rounded by 100 negro soldiers who shouted, "we've got them 
now." He ordered the arrest of all the parties, but up to this 
writing the sergeant alone has been arrested. If Gen. Slocum 
does not find out and hang these men there is no security for 
life to any man, and he is unfit for the command." But beyond 
issuing an admonitory order of "the terrible consequences if the 
spirit which led to this act is not repressed" and that "hereafter 
the officers of any regiment guilty of such crimes will be held to 
a strict accountability," nothing seems to have been done. 

Gen. Slocum's order was not, it seems by the following from 
the Herald of July 23d, taken seriously: "Complaints are daily 
made to the military authorities of outrages committed on the 
rights of the citizens, and no means have been resorted to for ef- 
fective remedy. Several cases have come to our knowledge in 
the past week where colored soldiers have entered and stripped 
gardens of vegetables and fruit. Only yesterday this was done 
and when ordered out by a lady she was grossly insulted. This 
was within three hundred yards of two encampments." Other in- 
stances of a like nature followed, occasioning the observation that 
such "daily occurrences does not argue well for officers charged 
with the duty of maintaining discipline." The recurrent reports 
of disorder and turbulenceness of the negro soldiers continued. 
February 24th, 1865, the Herald tells of "the diabolical murder" 
of Mr. Garrity, manager of the Dick Christmas plantation, his 
wife and two children by two negro deserters from a gunboat. 
The house was robbed and burned. "We did not hear," the pa- 
per said, "of any efforts for arresting the fiends.'' 
" March 17, 1865, the Herald had an account of "a horrible af- 
fair, the shooting and mortally wounding by soldiers of the 66th 
colored infantry of Mr. S. B. Cook, some miles from Vicksburg 
on his plantation. They entered his house and behaved in a very 
insulting manner besides committing other outrages." Mr. Cook 
died from his wounds. No arrests or punishment of the mur- 
derers followed. This crime was closely followed up by an- 
other "horrible murder." The Herald's account reads as fol- 
lows: "On the night of April 3d, after Major J. R. Cook, who 


Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 53 

lives seven miles from Vicksburg, and his family had retired, a 
party of about 25 negroes entered the house and shot Mrs. Cook. 
Major Cook sprang to her assistance and was severely if not mor- 
tally wounded. Supposing his wife, already dead, he succeeded 
in making his escape in company with his little son. The ne- 
groes remained in the house five hours, plundering. Mrs. Cook 
died the following morning. She spoke but few words, merely 
saying she had been shot by negroes dressed in uniform. Ma- 
jor General Dana has offered a reward of $500.00 for the appre- 
hension of the guilty." This general, who had succeeded Gen- 
eral Slocum, followed up his offer of reward by prompt and vig- 
orous action. A dozen negro soldiers were arrested and tried 
by a court martial presided over by Gen. J. A. Maltby. They 
were convicted # and ordered executed. The order was carried 
out May 26th, eight of the 52d colored infantry and one of the 
5th colored heavy artillery being hung outside the city fortifica- 
tions. Three of the guilty were respited by Gen. Warren, who 
had succeeded Gen. Dana in command. 

Wherever the negro soldiers were stationed or marched, there 
was dread among the women and children. On one of Col. E. D. 
Osband's raids through the river country, with three white and 
one negro regiment, in October, 1864, he surprised a small bat- 
tery of light artillery. Before abandoning the guns a few shells 
were fired from near the residence of Judge Edward McGehee, 
a mile or so from Woodville. The negro regiment was detailed 
to burn him out. An old letter from a member of the family re- 
lates that "on the remonstrance of this old man, who told the of- 
ficers in command that the house sheltered none but himself, his 
wife and three daughters, one seriously sick, he was dragged 
from the house and beaten over the head by the negro soldiers 
with their pistols. His wife begged the white commander, a 
Captain J. B. Cook of Kansas, not to 'let those negroes treat her 
husband so.' This wretch called out, 'do you hear that, boys? 
She called you niggers. Hit her.' And one of them knocked 
her down with his saber." 

Impelled by intolerable conditions, forty citizens of Oak 
Ridge, near Vicksburg, met Sept. 4, 1S63, to appeal to the military 

54 Mississippi Historical Society. 

authorities for relief from "straggling soldiers, and negroes 
armed and unarmed, who had despoiled them of their possessions 
and from whom their families were daily exposed to injuries and 
insults." Permission was asked to "unite as good orderly citizens 
for mutual aid in pursuing the vocations of life and protection of 
property and person." The "removal or disarming of the ne- 
groes on Roach's and Blake's plantations, who had robbed peace- 
able white citizens, and murdered citizens of Deer Creek," was 
asked. The question was asked, if "security of life and property 
would be afforded those who were planting and pursuing their 
vocations by the military." Copies of the proceedings of this 
meeting were sent Generals Sherman and Grant. The former's 
response was as a stone to those who asked bread. In a long 
and spiteful harangue he informed these people that on account 
of "firing on our steamboats, and after the long and desperate re- 
sistance to our armies in Mississippi generally, we are justified 
in treating the inhabitants as combatants and would be perfectly 
justifiable in transporting you all across the seas. * * * In 
due season the negroes at Blake and Roach will be hired or em- 
ployed by the government. But in the meantime no one must 
molest them. * < * * The moment your state can hold an open 
fair election and send senators and representatives to congress, I 
doubt not they would again be a part of the government. Until 
that is done it is idle to talk of such little annoyances as you re- 
fer to at Roach's and Deer Creek. 

General Sherman further, and considerately informed these 
complaining citizens that "General Grant was absent and would 
have no time to notice their petition, as he deals with a larger 
sphere; I have only reduced these points to writing that you peo- 
ple may have something to think about, and divert your minds 
from cotton, niggers and petty depredations." A copy of his 
correspondence being sent to General Halleck, that officer refer- 
red it to General Grant, who took occasion to write that "he did 
■not coincide with General Sherman as to the policy toward 
those people. * * * I think we should hold out terms that 
by accepting they would receive the protection of our laws." 
Subsequently General Sherman explained to General McPher- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 55 

son, who commanded a corps under him that he "intended mak- 
ing planters feel that they were responsible for the safety of navi- 
gation, for collecting corn and cotton, giving receipts to the loyal 
only. They must be shown we can reach and punish them in 
case they connive at attacks on our boats." To disprove conniv- 
ance, "they must -be active as friends. They cannot be allowed 
to be neutral. They may protest against being held responsible 
for acts of Confederates. But in war we have a perfect right to 
produce results in our own way." Such distorted and brutal the- 
ory of methods of war found no echo either with General Mc- 
Pherson or General Grant. 

In a letter to General Halleck August 30th, General Grant thus 
referred to the Deer Creek affair: "Signs of negro insurrection 
are beginning to exhibit themselves. Last week some armed ne- 
groes crossed the Yazoo in the neighborhood near Haynes' Bluff, 
and went up into the Deer Creek country, where they murdered 
several white men. I cannot learn the full particulars of this oc- 
currence. The negroes who committed this act, however, are 
not soldiers, but were probably some men from a^negro camp oc- 
cupying plantations near Haynes' Bluff. It seems that some of 
the citizens in that country have attempted to intimidate the ne- 
groes by whipping and (in a few instances) by shooting them. 
This probably was but a case of retribution." Local chronicles 
reveal no retribution in this case. After the fall of Vicksburg 
all Confederate troops cleared out of the Deer Creek country, a 
section made up wholly of large plantations and no white men of 
military age remained. Knowing that they might rob and mur- 
der there with impunity, negro men from concentration camps 
at Blakeley and Roach's being under no restraint, and armed by 
the Federals, depredated on the citizens as reported to General 

The crime of the negro soldiers did not close with the end of 
the war. If their use then was abominable, their retention in the 
service after white Union volunteers were mustered out, for 
governing the Southern states, was atrocious. It was literally 
placing black heels on white necks. In further contradition of 
Mr. Blaine's defense of the negro soldiers the following instances 

56 Mississippi Historical Society. 

of their conduct after the war are given : A dozen of the gar- 
rison at Hernando raiding and pillaging in the country were as- 
sailed by a party of citizens. One of the negro soldiers was 
killed and the rest only saved themselves by a wild flight to camp. 
In Vicksburg and Jackson there was a succession of disturbances 
and conflicts. A white man in the custody of Ma'yor Barrows of 
Jackson for killing a negro chicken thief, was taken possession of 
forcibly by a negro guard. In Artesia a negro soldier was shot 
and killed w T hile engaged in pilfering. A train on the Mobile and 
Ohio railroad was held up by negro soldiers at Lauderdale and the 
passengers insulted and threatened. In Yazoo county a white 
citizen was tried before the military court for killing a negro sol- 
dier and acquitted. In another like case in the same county a citi- 
zen was sentenced to be hung. A squad of negro soldiers under 
a white lieutenant forcibly took one of their number from jail for 
assaulting and trying to kill a Bolivar county planter. In Kem- 
per county a fray occurred between a citizen and a squad of ne- 
gro soldiers trying to seize some cotton. A guard of negro sol- 
diers was sent into the same county to arrest a citizen, who defied 
and drove them back to Meridian, arresting and holding one of 
their number. Thereupon a detachment of 150 soldiers was sent 
after him. They were met by Sheriff Gulley and a body of citi- 
zens and told that they should not arrest the citizen that they 
were after and they went back to Meridian without him. A ne- 
gro soldier in Vicksburg assaulted a white woman on the street. 
He was arrested by a policeman, whom he knocked down and 
beat with his own club. A crowd of negroes tried to rescue the 
soldier, to whom the policeman had clung when some white men, 
including a number of white soldiers went to the help of the po- 
liceman and dispersed the negro mob. A few weeks later another 
riot was precipitated by a negro guard, who marched a white man 
through the streets beating him over the head because he had 
wounded one of their number. About the same date the follow- 
ing appeared in the Vicksburg Herald: "The habit of the coU 
ored patrol of marching in file on the pavement should be stop 
ped. They seem to take a special delight in jostling citizen ■ 
the roughest manner when Washington street is crowded." 



Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 57 

Editor News and Mis sis sip plan: 

Dear Sir. — I desire to call the attention of your readers to an 
event which occurred here on this morning — leaving them to 
draw their own conclusions : 

I was at the Market House about half past six a. m., where 
I saw some negro armed soldiers ; enquiring their business, I was 
informed they were seeking to arrest Mr. W. W. Hardy, who 
had given some offense to a negro citizen. As a Justice of the 
Peace, I arrested Mr. Hardy myself. The negro guards took 
forcible possession of him and conveyed him to the peniten- 
tiary 1 — I went to Major Barnes' quarters and stated the case to 
him, wjien he gave me an order for his release. Lieut. Caudel, 
officer of the guard, refused to obey the order, but stated he 
would deliver him on a requisition of the Governor. On my 
way to the Governor's residence I was arrested and immured in 
a cell in the penitentiary for about two hours. 

I was in the lawful discharge of my duties as a Magistrate, 
and the above is a true statement of the case. 

Geo. Dobson. 

As a rule the military officers stationed in Mississippi at this 
period were true soldiers. The commander at Natchez, a Colonel 
Smith, was an exception to the rule. His influence and instruc- 
tions to his negro soldiers were largely responsible for the out- 
rages thus recounted in the city papers : 

A Horrible Murder by Negro Soldiers. — We gave an ac- 
count of the robbery of the house of Mrs. Rogillio, by some ne- 
gro soldiers, in the Democrat of Saturday last. We were un- 
able at that time to give our readers any clue to the fate of the 
young son of Mrs. R., who was taken away by the negroes on 
the night of the robbery. On Saturday last, his body was found 
three and a half miles from this city, on the Pine Ridge road, 
opposite the ground on which the Quitman barbecue was held 
several years ago. The hellish fiends had, it seems, tied the un- 
fortunate young man to a tree in the woods, and there, after tor- 
turing him in a way too sickening to relate, put an end to his life 
by shooting him twice through the body. — Several arrests have 
been made, and the watch of the young man has been found in the 
possession of a soldier belonging to the 6th U. S. C. Artillery. 
The people of this place are determined that this kind of work 
shall stop at once. — Natchez Democrat. 

Decision of Court Martial. — From a printed copy of Gen- 
eral Court Martial Orders, No. 18, before us, issued from head- 
quarters Department of Mississippi, we learn that the two ne- 

58 Mississippi Historical Society. 

groes, Curtis Black and Munday Harper, privates in the 6th 
U. S. C- A. (heavy), charged with the murder (and accessory of 
the same) of Garrity, the policeman, March 13, have been ac- 

Before the coroner's inquest the evidence of three or four 
gentlemen proved, without doubt, that the negroes mentioned 
above were, guilty of the crime. We shall publish it, and our 
readers may form their own opinion as to the guilt or innocence 
of the parties. 

How any court martial could acquit, when justice was looked 
for and promised, we cannot see ; unless it be that the principles 
enunciated by Col. Smith, of the 66th regiment, have taken root, 
and the above is fruit from the seed sown by him.* — Natchez 
Courier. . ; N M 

Vicksburg, Miss., Oct. 21, 1865. 
To his Excellency, Gov. Wells of Louisiana : 

Enclosed please find an article which I hope you will give a care- 
ful perusal, and act in the case as you may deem best. James 
Hunter, the deceased, was my husband, and I am anxious that 
justice should be done me; but at this place, and from the hands 
of Col. Thomas and his subordinates, I am not likely to have it. 
When I asked for information of the murderer of my husband, 
I was ill-treated and thrust from the room. Your attention to 
this will greatly relieve a forlorn widow. 


Your obedient servant, 

Catherine Hunter. 

Enclosed in the letter was a lengthy communication published 
in one of the Vicksburg papers, relative to the murder of Mrs. 
Hunter's husband. This communication being anonymous, we 
do not venture to repeat its statements further than to say that 
the murder was committed at De Soto, in this State, opposite 
Vicksburg, by a negro soldier, who it is charged was taken from 
the hands of the civil authorities by Col. Thomas of the Freed- 
men's Bureau at Vicksburg. — N. O. Crescent. 

The same troubles were experienced in other states — in South 
Carolina there were greater outrages endured. 

Provisional Governor Perry of South Carolina thus wrote the 
Secretary of State at Washington of the negro garrisons: 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McXcily. 59 

Greenville, S. C, August 10, 18G5. 

Dear Sir: I herewith communicate to you a paper received 
by me from the citizens of Pendelton, South Carolina, which I 
hope will receive some consideration. 

The complaints are general throughout the State that the col- 
ored troops are a great nuisance, and that they do infinite mis- 
chief with the freedmen by misrepresenting the purposes and in- 
tentions of the government. They tell them that the lands are 
to be divided, that they are not to work for their employers, and 
that the white race is to be driven out of the country or extermi- 
nated. There is great apprehension of danger in the lower part 
of the State, and there have been serious disturbances with the 

It would be a happy thing if the colored troops in South Caro- 
lina could be removed or confined to the city of Charleston, where 
they are not capable of doing so much mischief. 

The following is quoted from reconstruction in South Carolina 
by Jno. S. Reynolds : "In the town of Chester there were sta- 
tioned two companies of negro troops. At times a bloody riot 
seemed imminent. Three black soldiers clubbed and bayonetted. 
an old gentleman who died from the wounds inflicted. In Ab- 
beyville a lady and gentleman using the sidewalk were ap- 
proached by a negro soldier who had with him a negro woman, 
and rudely informed they must make way. The soldier's lan- 
guage was so obscene and his bearing so threatening that the lady 
deemed it best to get a guard of white soldiers at her home for 
the night. While the sentry walked his post in the hall, he was 
killed by a shot from negro soldiers, the shot evidently intended 
for the gentleman whose remonstrances had provoked insult in 
the afternoon. In Charleston a party of negro soldiers felled a 
lady of the house to the floor and were about to smash the furni- 
ture when arrested and carried off by white soldiers. In Beau- 
fort district a party of negro soldiers visited a house occupied by 
ladies and committed acts too horrid to retate. . Two of the 
brutes were apprehended, tried by miltary court and promptly 
hung. At Newbury Calvin Crozier, a paroled Confederate on 
his way home ordered a negro soldier away from offensive prox- 
imity to a young lady in the car. The negro refusing was put 
out, having received a cut in his neck in the altercation. He 

60 Mississippi Historical Society. 

soon returned with some of his regiment. Crozier was seized, 
taken to camp and shot to death. Their colonel approved the act 
with the brutes dancing around his corpse/' The people of New-' 
bury erected a monument to the memory of this martyr of the 
abominable policy of negro troops, which bears the following in- 
scription: "Calvin S. Crozier, born at Brandon, Mississippi, Au- 
gust, 1840. Murdered at Newbury September, 1865." A nar- 
rative of the murder is inscribed on the monument. The follow- 
ing is quoted from Governor Perry, of South Carolina : "I con- 
tinued remonstrance to Secretary Seward on the employment of 
negro troops, gave details of their atrocious conduct. At An- 
derson they carried off a negro who had wantonly murdered his 
master. At Greenville they knocked down citizens in the streets 
without slightest provocation. At Pocotaligo they entered a gen- 
tleman's house, and after tying him violated the ladies." A re- 
port of the Pocotaligo outrage being handed him, General Meade 
said "he was opposed to negro troops and was trying to rid the 
army of them, but had to exercise great caution not to offend 
Northern sentiment." 

Colonel Hawley, commanding the post at Asheville, North 
Carolina, reported May 7th, 1865 : "The negro soldiers who 
committed rape, four in number, were shot yesterday before the 
regiment. Robberies and depredations are ceasing." General 
Tillson endorsed on the report: "The negroes executed were a 
party of four who went out of camp and committed a brutal rape 
on a young white woman, after nearly killing her uncle and aunt, 
two very old people, who tried to prevent the outrage. I am 
much gratified they have been found and shot." 

President Johnson, whose conversion to the use of negro troops 
had been hailed by President Lincoln but little over a year before, 
wrote General G. H. Thomas, September, 1865 : "I have infor- 
mation of the most reliable character that the negro troops sta- 
tioned at Greenville are under little or no restraint and are com- 
mitting depredations throughout the country and are in fact run- 
ning the white people out of the neighborhood. The negro sol- 
diery take possession of and occupy property in the town at dis- 
cretion, and have even gone so far as to take my own house and 

Mississippi's Provisional Government-— McNeily. Gl 

convert it into a rendezvous for male and female negroes, mak- 
ing it in fact a common negro brothel. It was bad enough to be 
taken by traitors and converted into a rebel hospital, but a negro 
whore house is infinitely worse. As to the value of the house I 
care nothing for that, but it is humiliating in the extreme that it 
is a sink of pollution. The people of East Tennessee above all 
others are the last who should be afflicted with the outrages of 
negro soldiers." 

Governor Brownlow, who had just been asking for troops at 
the polls, also wanted the state rid of negro troops. September 
6th President Johnson wrote him: "I had just anticipated the 
subject referred to in your letter by dispatching General Thomas 
to relieve Tennessee of the difficulty you complain of." Gen. 
Thomas replied the same day by saying he would order the negro 
soldiers out of Tennessee, "either to Georgia or Alabama." Gen- 
eral Thomas was by birth a Virginian, and when the war clouds 
first appeared a rabid Southerner. The violence of the change 
experienced on drawing his sword against his section was not 
unnaturally reflected in the severity of his feelings toward the 
conquered fellow Southerners, over whom he ruled. His worse 
than heartless indifference to their hard fate was shown in the 
words quoted. By the following he did not order the negro 
troops from Tennessee : 

Nashville, Tenn., January 2d, 18G6. 

Respectfully referred to Major-General Stoneman, Command- 
ing Department of Tennessee, at Memphis, Tennessee, who 
will inform the Mayor of the city of Memphis and others in civil 
authority at that place, and the signers of this petition, that, if 
they and the courts are prepared to guarantee equal rights and 
justice to all men within their community, it will be time to con- 
sider the propriety of removing the troops, or of conceding to 
their request that only white troops be employed among them. 

Until they are prepared to give such guarantee, it is not consid- 
ered that they have any right to expect that their petition should 
be favorably considered, but that while their own conduct ren- 
ders it necessary to keep troops among them, we must use such 
as we have, be they white or black, without regard to feelings or 
wishes on the subject 

By command of Major General Thomas. 

Wm. D. Whipple, 
Brigadier General, A. A. G. 


Mississippi Historical Society. 

Writing General Thomas on the subject of negro troops Presi- 
dent Johnson said that "it would exert much better influence if 
white troops were used to protect the country." That "in the 
event of insurrection they could not be controlled. It is believed 
there are numerous persons inciting the negro population to acts 
of violence, revenge and insurrection." All of the Federal com- 
manders — Grant, Sherman, Canby — except Thomas, concurred in 
the President's view of the negro troops. In his reply General 
Thomas said the "negro soldiers were as a rule under good dis- 
cipline. 'In the majority of collisions the white man had at- 
tempted to bully them." General Dana, who in his command 
of the Vicksburg district, had gained large experience with negro 
troops, wrote General Canby, May 9th: "Unless some white in- 
fantry is sent me I shall be compelled to detail colored troops at 
Jackson and Brookhaven. If this can be avoided it is advisable 
to do so." 

The Louisville Journal adds its influence, in favor of the re- 
moval of the colored soldiers, for the following very forcible 
reasons : 

"The atrocious murder of a police officer on Friday night by 
drunken negro soldiers in this city seconds the appeal we put forth 
on Saturday for the removal of all negro soldiers from this city 
and State and the Southern States, and pleads more powerfully 
in favor of the measure than any words of ours possibly could. 
Will not the Government give its immediate attention to this sub- 
ject? The President may rest assured that there is no division 
of sentiment in this State, in any Southern State, in reference to 
this matter." 

Union citizens of the Paducah district urged Secretary Stanton 
to "give them immediate relief from the depredations of negro 
soldiers." Their communication recited that "small bodies of 
colored troops sent from Columbus. Kentucky, to Tennessee to 
recruit are committing unparalleled depredations. Shameful out- 
rages are being inflicted on persons and property. They are 
breaking into court houses and public offices destroying records 
and papers. The losses from them in some instances exceed 
those of the war. Can you not give us immediate relief." This 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 63 

"relief" was given in sending the negro troops to Mississippi and 

Fleming's Reconstruction in Alabama : "At Bladon Springs 
(in Alabama) some negro troops shot a Mr. Bass while he was 
in bed and beat his wife and children with ramrods. They , drove 
the wife and daughter of a Mr. Rhodes from home and set fire to 
his house. The citizens fled from their homes which were pil- 
laged by the negro soldiers. The trouble originated in the re- 
fusal of the white people to associate with white officers of negro 
troops. These troops had little respect for their officers and 
threatened to shoot them. At Decatur they shot into and plun- 
dered homes of the whites. In Greensboro a white youth struck 
a negro who had insulted him, and was in turn slapped in the 
face by a Federal officer whom he at once shot and escaped. The 
negro population, led by the negro soldiers, entered every house 
in town, seized all the arms and secured as hostage the brother of 
the escaped man. A gallows was erected and the boy was about 
to be hanged when his relatives received an intimation that money 
would secure his release. Ten thousand dollars was secured and 
sent to the officers in command. The young man was released." 

The Memphis Avalanche of the 29th says : 

We learn of Dr. Carr, who arrived from White river yester- 
day morning, that a violent demonstration was made against a 
passenger on the steamer Commercial, at Helena, by a squad of 
negro soldiers, who came down in force to prevent the passenger 
with whom they had a difficulty the evening before, from embark- 
ing on the steamer. The symptoms being unfavorable, however, 
the negroes, though extremely boisterous and profane in their 
wholesale .denunciations, wisely confined their demonstrations 
among themselves, one portion trying to prevent another portion 
from boarding the boat, against which they are reported to have 
sworn vengeance. There is some reason to fear a preconcerted 
attack of negroes on both the steamers Commercial and Justice, 
against which, it is said, the negroes of both DuvalFs Bluff and 
Helena have sworn vengeance. 

Daring Outrage of Colored Soldiers. — On Monday even- 
ing, as Miss Luberbier, the daughter of a prominent citizen of 
Jefferson parish, was proceeding on foot to a ball given at Car- 
rollton, she was seized by several colored soldiers, who attempted 
to carry her forcibly to their camp at Greenville. Her screams 
alarming the neighborhood, several men came to the rescue, and 


Mississippi Historical Society. 

the soldiers, seeing themselves about to Be detected, fled. The 
young lady is utterly unable to recognize any one of them, and 
in consequence no attempt has been made to ferret out the of- 
fenders. They had pursued her almost to her own door before 
she was seized. — New Orleans Times. 

Writing to General Grant from Richmond, April' 29th, 18G5, 
General Halleck said : 

"General Ord represents that want of discipline and good of- 
ficers in the 25th corps (colored) renders it a very improper force 
for the preservation of order. A number of cases of atrocious 
rape by these men have already occurred. Their influence on 
the colored population is also reported to be bad. I therefore 
hope you will remove it to garrison forts or for service on the 
southern coast/' 

On the next day General Halleck wrote : 

"On further consultation with General Ord, I am more fully 
convinced of the policy of withdrawal of the 25th corps from Vir- 
ginia. Their conduct recently has been even worse than I sup- 

May 1st General Halleck wrote Gen. Ord: 

"The 25th corps will be put into a camp of instruction at City 
Point or Bermuda Hundred. No more colored troops will be 
enlisted." i •. > 

May 13th General HartsufT, commanding at Petersburg, near 
City Point, where the negro troops were in camp, wrote their 
commander : 

"Many complaints are made at this headquarters of depreda- 
tions by soldiers of the 25th corps, consisting principally in de- 
struction of buildings and exciting the colored people to acts of 
outrage against persons and property of white citizens. Colored 
soldiers are, reputed as having straggled about ordering negroes 
not to work, and that if they had not arms to use against their 
former masters that they (the soldiers) would furnish them." 

On May 17th General Grant ordered the quartermaster's de- 
partment that ocean transportation be provided for this corps, of 
about 20,000 men, with as little delay as practicable ; and inform 
General Hallack when it would reach City Point. And the last 
of this corps of black white elephants sailed for Texas June 26th. 

The only apprehension of race collision immediately subse- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. Go 

quent to the close of the war and the emancipation of the slaves, 
was due to the negro garrisons that were stationed in Mississippi 
and others of the states "lately in rebellion." On these the white 
people looked with involuntary and undisguised aversion and de- 
testation, which was returned with show of insolence as far as 
it was safe to carry it. The whites were bitterly resentful of 
the elevation of their recent slaves over them, while the negroes 
were just as naturally purled up by the sense of protection and 
authority the uniform conferred. 

An interesting and vexatious issue of the times was the status 
of some millions of cotton bonds and notes issued during the war 
in consideration of cotton pledged for future delivery. The notes 
served as currency, and were made receivable for taxes. Rest- 
ing on the basis of cotton they were thought more secure and de- 
sirable than Confederate notes, and by the close of the war they 
were being so held and hoarded. Even after the war had closed, 
when all notes, bonds, etc., "issued in aid of rebellion'' had been 
outlawed by the Federal power, speculators had enough faith in 
the validity of the state cotton, or treasury notes to^buy them up 
at twenty or thirty cents on the dollar. These notes were besides 
still being tendered, according to their express terms, in payment 
for taxes. The discussion of the question of the validity of the 
cotton issues became acute, when Governor Humphreys issued a 
proclamation, January 8th, 1866, requiring all persons to whom 
advances in circulating notes had been made to deliver the num- 
ber of bales of cotton on which they had received such advances. 
The amount outstanding when Governor Humphreys issued 
his proclamation, in accordance with law, calling for the redemp- 
tion of the cotton bonds, was four millions nine hundred and 
ninety-one thousand seven hundred and seventeen dollars and 
fifty cents ($4,991,717.50). Up to this time, about two millions 
four hundred thousand dollars of the bonds had been redeemed. 
About two millions and a half were unredeemed. Under the 
law, it was made the duty of the Governor to institute suit to en- 
force their payment. The terms of the law required that parties 
sued would be liable for double the amount of their bonds. Nine- 
ty days notice had been given, and the time had expired. How- 

66 Mississippi Historical Society. 

ever, Governor Humphreys instructed the State Treasurer to con- 
tinue to cancel the bonds of all parties offering to pay the amount 
of their indebtedness. This discretionary power was left him un- 
der the act. 

The consideration secured from the state had been outlawed, 
and much of the very cotton pledged by the growers in patriotic 
support of the government had been burned to prevent its falling 
in the hands of the enemy, by orders of the state or Confederate 
authorities. Nevertheless the proclamation demanding settlement 
was in compliance with the law. But so manifest was its in- 
equity that compliance was not enforced. The following illumi- 
nating passage from a Jackson correspondent to the Vicksburg 
Herald is quoted : 

The cotton bonds and money advanced thereon, continue to en- 
gage the attention of the bulls and bears in this vicinity. A great 
many persons are speculating in it, more or less. A dollar in 
cotton money has been for some time valued at prices ranging be- 
tween twenty and thirty cents in United States Treasury notes ; 
twenty-two cents, at present, is freely offered, while some are 
selling at twenty-five, and at prices above that figure. About 
three millions of the five authorized remains in circulation. Dur- 
ing this month the daily payment has averaged over ten thousand 
dollars. Today forty thousand dollars, and frequently before 
as much as twenty thousand dollars, has been paid. It is a no- 
ticeable fact that very few can be found among those who favor 
the redemption of these bonds, who have received an advance on 
their cotton; and that it is even more difficult to find, among 
those who oppose the same measure, persons who have not re- 
ceived this advance. 

While opinion was largely ranged according to the point of 
view, it was assuming too much to claim that the alignment w r as 
wholly governed by self-interest. There was plausible argument 
at least on both sides. It was contended by those who held the 
notes involved that they were in fact, if not in terms, intended to 
aid the rebellion — that they were notoriously issued to enable the 
state to maintain the position she had taken as one of the Con- 
federacy — to supply a general circulating medium, or currency, 
that the people might pay taxes — without which the state govern- 
ment could not be kept up. As to the obligation of the cotton 


Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 67 

producers to deliver cotton in consideration of the money, or notes 
so delivered to them and which they had used in buying and sell- 
ing, the redemption of that obligation had been made impossible. 
And that, besides, it was a poor and ungenerous argument to 
urge against the planters, that as a class they received advances 
from the state which were beyond the reach of other citizens, and 
that any legislation to protect them from the payment of these 
cotton bonds would be class legislation; and especially as they 
had suffered most by the war. Deprived of slaves, it was argued, 
their houses and barns burned ; their fields laid waste ; their lands 
(all the property left them) greatly depreciated in value; their 
stock killed or stolen — shall they now be oppressed, when the 
prosperity of the state and of the people depends upon their pros- 
perity? Shall the misguided acts of officials, or the howl of 
speculators impair and cripple this "bone and sinew" of the land, 
at a time when they are struggling against extraordinary oppres- 
sion and adversity? No! Common justice and the law of the 
land forbid it. And that while the Governor an issuing his 
proclamation for them to come forward and settle up believed he 
was required to do so by the law, he was wrong in his judgment. 
The other side, that which urged the validity of the bonds, or 
notes, stood on the letter of the law. While this was enacted 
during the war it could not, it was urged, be called a war meas- 
ure—that there was not a word in the statute indicating that the 
measure was designed to aid the rebellion ; none of the cotton or 
the funds arising from a sale thereof, was to be applied to war 
purposes — but, on the contrary, 'Treasury Notes," (as the act 
called this "cotton money") were simply to be issued "to the peo- 
ple of the state," on the security of the cotton pledged, according 
to the provisions of the statute. As the Confederate govern- 
ment was not strictly aided in its military or civil operations the 
law and the notes were not restricted. As to the plea that the 
act was not enforcible by reason of the destruction of the cotton, 
it was understood that there was no pledge of any designated 
cotton bales for the satisfaction of the bonds. There was no 
change of ownership or possession. The party asking for an 
advance, merely applied by petition, under oath, to the auditor. 


Mississippi Historical Society. 

stating therein the number of bales, with their weight, brands 
and numbers then in his possession, and upon which there was no 
lien or incumbrance, and he received an advance upon such por- 
tion of that cotton as he desired to pledge, as a security for the 
advance, without naming or designating what particular bales 
were to be delivered to the state. The receipt for the advance, 
signed by the party obtaining it, states that the cotton pledged is 
to be safely kept and delivered; and the law declares that the 
same, "until sold, shall remain at the risk of the .party receiving 
said advance." 

This is a brief of the two opposing sides of the cotton money 
question. The proclamation of Governor Humphreys did not 
imply that he accepted either the one view or the other. He sim- 
ply followed the course the law imposed on him. Had he acted 
otherwise he would have gone beyond the jurisdiction of the ex- 
ecutive and trespassed on that of the judicial department. He 
simply put the decision of the case up to the courts, where deci- 
sion belonged. 

The issue was made up by the sheriff of Hinds county who re- 
fused a tender of a cotton note in payment of taxes, alleging it 
was "issued in aid of the rebellion." The contention was trans- 
ferred to the courts. The sheriff was sustained after a delay of 
several years, by the High Court of Errors and Appeals, which 
cut the ground from under the war money as issued in aid of the 
rebellion. The loss fell chiefly on speculators or persons pur- 
chasing the notes at a great discount, to dispose of them for pay- 
ment of taxes. 

In Southern calendars 1S65 marks a year of crowning calamity. 
The remorseful gloom of defeat, mingled with grief for the slain 
and maimed, the ruin of fortune, the devastated homes, the 
wreck of the industrial system on which all business pursuits piv- 
oted, was a test to make the strongest hearts quail. The passing 
under the rod has been thus pictured by the gifted Carmack : "The 
South is a land that has known sorrow, it is a land that has 
broken the ashen crust and moistened it with tears, a land seared 
and riven by the plowshares of war and billowed with the graves 
of her dead. But the South is a land hallowed by heroic memo- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government— McNeity. 69 

ries." In the days of 1865 when the sorrow .and tears were ever 
present realities, there was slight alleviation in the "heroic memo- 
ries" from which so much solace has been derived since. The 
vain sacrifice and suffering, the ruin and despair hung too closely 
and heavily over the land. There was comfort, it is true, in the 
fact that at last "the cruel war was over," and a grief tinged joy 
in the return of the vanquished soldiers. The home-comings of 
the survivors was a silver lining of the dark cloud which ob- 
scured the rays of hope in 1865. 

So unpromising was the future of the state that many of the 
most enterprising youth left to seek their fortunes in the West 
and North. Some returned, but the loss of those who did not was 
severe. The general material progress toward reunion was slow. 
November- 3 Oth, President Johnson, by proclamation, restored the 
treasured writ of habeas corpus, which had been suspended by 
President Lincoln, but excepted from his proclamation the South- 
ern states, where it had been effaced by conquest. Little prog- 
ress had been made by the close of the year toward the restora- 
tion of mail service in the South. Only nineteen post offices 
were regularly opened in the state. 

Though at this period, pending the assemblage of congress, 
there was no acute fear of the Southern future other than that 
pertaining to the doubts and difficulties of adjustment of labor 
conditions with the freeing of the slaves. It was the common 
belief that the President's plan of reconstruction would, with im- 
material modification perhaps,, be approved by congress. This 
faith was little disturbed by radical utterances and publications, 
prior to the beginning of the session, which owing to scanty mail 
facilities did not reach the Southern interior. Hope fvvas fed on 
the following letter from Secretary of State Seward to Governor 
Sharkey : 

Department of State, 

Washington, December 4, 1S65. 
Sir: The time has arrived when, in the judgment of the Presi- 
dent of the United States, the care and conduct of the proper af- 
fairs of the state of Mississippi may be remitted to the constitu- 
tional authorities chosen by the people thereof, without danger 
to the ipeace and safety of the United States. By direction of 

70 Mississippi Historical Society. 

the President, therefore, you are relieved from the trust which 
was heretofore reposed in you as provisional governor of the 
State of Mississippi. Whenever the governor-elect shall have 
accepted and become qualified to discharge the duties of the ex- 
ecutive office, you will transfer the papers and property of the 
state now in your custody to his excellency, Governor Hum- 

It gives me especial pleasure to convey to you the President's 
acknowledgment of the fidelity, loyalty and discretion which have 
marked your administration. • 

A letter similar to this was written each of the Governors ap- 
pointed by President Johnson; that to the Governor of Alabama, 
which is given below, having a special and significant clause. 
Founded upon his prominence in the Republican party for^many 
years, being looked upon as the heir to Lincoln's leadership, un- 
aware that his influence and high position had already been fa- 
tally undermined, there was a most inflated idea of the weight of 
Secretary of State Seward's influence over affairs. Mr. Seward 
was apparently little less aware of the change than others. A 
Washington press dispatch showing how poorly Mr. Seward read 
the signs and portents is noted. A meeting of the Southern dele- 
gates December 20th, who "resolved to go home and remain until 
March 4th, at any rate. On the succeeding day the secretary 
of state, in conversation with Senator Segar of Virginia, said 
the Southern members would be admitted on the reopening of the 
session, after the holidays, and requested him to return by that 
time if he left the capital." How the Southern people were in- 
fluenced by Mr. Seward's letter to the Southern Governors is re- 
flected in the following Vicksburg Herald editorial, commenting 
on the one to Governor Sharkey : 

This is a pledge by the Secretary of State, under the authority 
of the President, that our people have been restored to^ self-gov- 
ernment. Neither the President nor the Secretary of State need 
fear that this power will be abused. There is more anxiety here 
for a reign of peace than exists at Washington. We have known 
war in its worst form, and are extremely averse to a renewal of 
it. We ask nothing but that we shall be let alone, to gather from 
the embers of our ruin such remains as shall serve to restore us 
to shelter and a reasonable degree of comfort. 

Mississippi's Provisional Government— McNeil y. ?i 

This letter of Mr. Seward has a clear significance which shows 
to us, imperfectly, perhaps, that the President, while being in an- 
tagonism with the majority of Congress, is resolved to hold his 
position at any hazard, and so, today, we are less apprehensive 
of the future, or, rather, the wickedness of the controlling force 
of Congress. 

^ The President has power equal to that of the Emperor of 
France. If he have the stern will to use this power for public 
good, he can make of the congressional giant a mere pigmy. We 
think that he has the will, and, therefore, we gather heart and 
look to the future with more hopefulness. He can save us from 



Alas, the time was soon to come to prove the President's im- 
potence against congress, ''to save us from harm" — that 
"Hope told a flattering tale, 
Delusive, vain and hollow." 

Other false lights were held out — vide the following : 

Washington, Dec. 3, I860. 
To the Governor of Alabama: 

The president congratulates you and the country upon the ac- 
ceptance of the constitutional amendment of the constitution of 
the United States by the state of Alabama, which state being the 
27th, fills out the completion of the two-thirds, and gives the 
amendment finishing effect as part of the organic law of the land. 

W. H. Seward. 

These communications were looked upon as a sure precursor 
of the admission of the Southern representatives and congress- 
men, and the full re-establishment of the relations of their states 
with the Union. The expectation having failed, it was bitterly 
asked that, if Alabama could vote to amend the constitution of 
the United States, was it not the height of inconsistency and 
tyranny to say that she could not vote in congress upon the adop- 
tion of laws subordinate to that constitution ? 

A non-political forward step toward the reunion goal is here 
noted : Secession of the Southern states, the strife over the slav- 
ery question and the war, had extended divisional lines in the re- 
ligious as well as political field. The prayer in the Episcopal 

%% Mississippi Historical Society. 

service for "the President of the United States and all in civil au- 
thority," had been changed by substituting "Confederate" for 
"United." October 20th certain Southern bishops published a 
letter announcing their attendance upon the general church con- 
vention of the United States, contained the statement that "we see 
nothing to hinder the renewal of the relations formerly existing 
in the church." This view was generally adopted. And soon 
afterward Bishop William Mercer Green of Mississippi sent out 
a letter which closed as follows : 

In order to show a becoming desire to meet the wishes of our 
Northern Brethren, and also to relieve our people from the sus- 
picion of disloyalty to "The Powers that be," I now request my 
Brethren of the Clergy to return to the use of the "Prayer for 
the President of the United States and all in civil authority?' 
This I was unwilling to do so long as we were threatened with 
dictation from either the civil or military authority. But as no 
assumption of power is any longer to be apprehended, and as our 
State is now measurably possessed of her Constitutional rights, 
I now cheerfully recommend the use of that prayer. 

There was a serious and a singular complication in Alabama, 
where the department commander, General Geo. H. Thomas, 
had, in September, ordered that the bishop and the clergy of the 
Episcopal diocese be suspended from their functions, and forbid- 
den to preach or perform divine service, and their places of wor- 
ship be closed because of the .omission of that part of the prayer 
service asking the divine blessing upon "the President of the 
United States and all in civil authority." In a lengthy general 
order this was declared to show "a factious and disloyal spirit." 
A congregation at Montgomery attempting to worship in a school 
house, was driven out by a company of soldiers. Being appealed 
to by Bishop Wilmer, the President directed General Thomas to 
revoke his order, which figures as one of the most despotic and 
brutal in reconstruction history. General Thomas' compliance, 
Dec. 22nd, with the President's order, was in spiteful spirit, 
graceless, churlish and insulting; concluding by leaving Bishop 
Wilmer to that "remorse of conscience consequent on the expos- 
ure and failure of the diabolic schemes of designing and corrupt 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McXcily. ?3 

The difference between the malevolent and tyrannical rule of 
General Thomas and the just and magnanimous administration 
of office by General T. J. Wood, is to be read in a comparison of 
the following considerate general order, with the Wilnrer letter : 

General Orders No. 40. 

The President of the United States having designated Thurs- 
day, the seventh day of December next, as. a day of Prayer and 
Thanksgiving, for the restoration of peace, and for the blessings 
of an abundant harvest ; no military duties will be required on 
that day, in this department, except those absolutely necessary. 

The troops will be paraded in the morning and the President's 
Proclamation read to them. 

Divine service will be held by the Chaplains of posts and regi- 

The clergy are requested to open their churches, and citizens 
generally to close their places of business on that day. 

The commanding officers of districts will take measures to 
carry this order into effect in their respective districts. 

By command of Major General Wood. 

There was little of the spirit of thankfulness in the popular 
heart at this time. But there is a vast difference in being " re- 
quested" and in being ordered, from one who had the power to 
order. It was a difference that marked all of General Wood's 
communications to the people of Mississippi while he exercised 
command in the state. Pie had no eyes or ears for the hiatus in 
sacerdotal loyalty which so raised the ire of General Thomas. 
This state was peculiarly favored above her neighbors in having 
General Wood for a ruler in the trying years of 1S65 and 1SGG. 

The reconstruction program was formally and unmistakably 
revealed on the assembling of congress. While the lurid flashes 
of lightning and the distant mutterings of thunder from the 
clouds gathering upon the horizon had set the storm flag flying, 
the talk of the President and Mr. Seward's notes had lulled the 
majority of those who lived in the pathway of the storm into a 
false sense of security. That fatuity was now to be dispelled. 
Congress met December 4. Of the temper of the majority lead- 
ers, the plan of reconstruction they had determined upon, there 
was quick and clear revelation. To the radical exponents the 
war had but opened the way to the consummation of race equality 

74= Mississippi Historical Society. 

in the South ; the establishment of negro suffrage through which 
the hated rebels would be punished, and the permanency of Re- 
publican supremacy be assured. James G. Blaine is quoted to 
show the implacability of the Republican congress at its opening 
toward the South, and the President's provisional governments. 
Of an address aimed to feed the sectional fires which, Speaker 
Colfax delivered in opening the session, the following is quoted 
from "Twenty Years of Congress," page 112, Vol. II : "The re- 
marks of Air. Colfax had evident reference to the previous action 
of Southern rebels and were so entirely in harmony with the feel- 
ings of the house that at different stages of the brief address the 
Republican side broke, forth into loud applause. As soon as the 
election of speaker was completed Mr. Thaddeus Stevens, rec- 
ognized as the leader of the majority, offered a resolution," etc. 
The resolution is here quoted: 

'^Resolved, by the senate and house of representatives in con- 
gress assembled, That a joint committee of fifteen shall be ap- 
pointed, nine of whom shall be members of the house and six of 
the senate, who shall inquire into the condition of the states which 
formed the so-called Confederate States of America, and report 
whether they or any of them are entitled to be represented in 
either house of congress, with leave to report by bill or otherwise ; 
and until such report shall have been made and finally acted upon 
by congress, no member shall be received in either house from 
any of the said so-called Confederate states ; and all papers relat- 
ing to the representatives of the said states shall be referred to 
the said committee." 

The Stevens resolution, introduced and adopted in the house 
as the first act of the first day of congress, may be truthfully 
styled as the germ of all our woes. It was amended in the sen- 
ate by striking out the last clause, not that it was in itself objec- 
tionable, but that it touched on prerogative. The names of the 
committee members destined to a more than dubious fame, as ar- 
chitects of the reconstruction abomination, are given as follows : 
Senators Wm. J. Fessenden, of Maine, chairman ; Jas. W. Grimes, 
Iowa; Jacob M. Howard, Michigan; Geo. H. Williams, Oregon, 
Republicans, and Reverdy Johnston, Democrat, Maryland. Rep- 
resentatives Thaddeus Stevens, Pennsylvania; Elihu B. Wash- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 75 

burn, Illinois; Justin V. Morrill, Vermont; John A. Bingham, 
Ohio; Roscoe Conkling, New York; Geo. S. Boutwell, Massa- 
chusetts ; Henry T. Blow, Missouri, Republicans ; A. J. Rodgers, 
New Jersey, and Henry Girder, Kentucky, Democrats. Upon the 
introduction of the resolution there was a motion to defer action 
until the President's message was read; which was according to 
the precedents and the proprieties. But, says ,Mr. Blaine, ''the 
house was in no disposition to testify respect to Mr. Johnson." 
With a full knowledge that the resolution looked to the overthrow 
of the provisional governments and a substitution of a pure des- 
potism over the Southern states, the motion was voted down four 
to one. The adoption of the resolution was by a similar vote. 
This action shows that not only was there no thought or disposi- 
tion to treat with the President, congress met with the Republican 
majority literally "spoiling for a fight." The senate was every 
bit as belligerent as the house. 

The platform on which Mr. Colfax was elected will be read in 
the report, in the Chicago Republican, of a speech he delivered 
in Washington November ISth. Such a keynote of 'the Republi- 
can majority furnishes definition and proof of the issues con- 
fronting the President and his reconstruction policy. 

Washington, November 19. — The speech of the Hon. Schuy- 
ler Colfax, last night, has made quite a sensation, it being consid- 
ered as, in a great measure, the key-note of the action of the Re- 
publicans in Congress, and indicating clearly — 

' First — That no Southern rebel State will he admitted upon the 
floor at that organization. 

Second — That no work or reconstruction will be recognized 
until, after mature deliberation, that action is submitted to and 
ratified by the people at the polls, in such manner that the North 
will have an assurance of their honesty. 

Third — That the test oath will be enforced for years to come. 

Fourth — That the organization of the Union party will not be 
abandoned upon any consideration. 

Fifth — That the President has made demands upon rebel 
States to comply with certain conditions that he deems necessary 
to reorganization ; that Congress will approve of that much, but 
will go further and demand more, and in that they will be sus- 
tained by the people ; that the question of negro suffrage will not 
be made a primary consideration, but will fall in due time; 

?G Mississippi Historical Society. 

that, though many men have paper pardons in their pockets, the 
people have not yet ratified them. 

Of this rancorous speech there is virtual avowal on page 112, 
Vol II, of Blaine's 'Twenty Years in Congress." In "the sen- 
ate," this history says, "the proceedings were conducted with 
even more disregard for the President. An entire policy was 
outlined by Mr. Sumner without the slightest reference to what 
the President might communicate 'on the state of the union,' 
and in absolute hostility to jthe one that Mr. Johnson had de- 
vised." On page 113, "No action of a more decisive character 
could have been taken to indicate, on the threshold of congres- 
sional proceedings the hostility of the Republican party, not 
merely to the President's plan of resconstruction but to the men 
who, under its operation in the South, had been chosen to rep- 
resent their districts in congress. The presence in Washington 
of a considerable number of men from the South who, when 
congress adjourned in March were serving in the Confederate 
army and were now at the capital demanding seats in the senate 
and house, produced a feeling of exasperation amounting to 
hatred." The men chosen from Mississippi to congress had all 
been pronounced against secession. None had been prominent in 
war. Neither of her senators had been Confederate soldiers. The 
other Southern states had pursued a like policy, of sending men 
to congress who would least tempt congressional "exasperation." 
The treatment of the South, the policy proposed by the radical 
leaders was far more deeply rooted than in any passing "exas- 
peration" or especial provocation. It was the same plan which 
radical leaders had asserted in Lincoln's life. Of the purpose 
and outline of their work no secret was made. It was clearly 
declared in "the policy outlined by Mr. Sumner," closely follow- 
ing the opening of the session, which embraced five certain condi- 
tions. "While, not put forth as a finality," ("Twenty Years in 
Congress," p. 113, Vol. II) "they were significant if not con- 
clusive of the demands which would be made, first by the more 
advanced Republicans, and ultimately by the whole party." 
These five "conditions were: The complete re-establishment of 
loyalty as shown by an honest recognition of the unity of the 


Mississippi's Provisional Government— McNcily. 77 

Republic and the duty of allegiance to it at all times without 
mental reservation or equivocation of any kind ; the complete sup- 
pression of all oligarchical pretensions and the complete en- 
franchisement of all citizens, so that there dare be no denial of 
rights on account of race or color; the rejection of the rebel debt, 
etc. ; the organization of an educational system without distinc- 
tion of race or color ; the choice of citizens for office whether na- 
tional or state of consistent and undoubted loyalty," etc. There 
was no extreme of tyranny that could not be framed out of this 
code of loyalty. Quotation from Mr. Blaine is continued: "In 
December, 1865, the great body of Republicans would have prefer- 
red to work with Johnson, if he had agreed with them as to cer- 
tain guarantees rather than to follow Sumner and Stevens." The 
congressional proceedings at the very opening of the session re- 
fute the assertion that "the great body of Republicans would have 
preferred to work with Johnson" under any "guarantees" short 
of accepting the policy of Sumner and Stevens. Their malign 
and inflammatory appeals readily and at once enlisted the ap- 
plause and following of all but a moiety of Republican congress- 
men. Thus and then the bitter contest was initiated — the dire 
and distressing war penalties generated. 

The President's message led ,off with an exhaustive statement 
concerning the binding force of the constitution and the relations 
thereunder of the states and the general government. His ar- 
gument on that point was given the following application : 

"I have thus explained my views of the mutual relations of the 
constitution and the states, because they unfold the principles on 
which I have sought to solve the momentous questions and over- 
come the appalling difficulties that met me at the commencement 
of my administration. It has been my steadfast object to escape 
from the sway of momentary passion and divine a healing policy 
from the fundamental and unchanging principles of the constitu- 
tion. I found the states suffering from the effects of a civil war. 
Resistance to the general government appeared to have exhausted 
itself. The United States had recovered possession of their forts 
and arsenals, and their armies were in the occupation of every 
state which had attempted to secede. Whether the territory 

78 Mississippi Historical Society. 

within the limits of these states should be held as conquered ter- 
ritory, under military authority, emanating from the President as 
the head of the army, was the first question which presented itself 
for decision. Now, military governments, established for an in- 
definite period, would have offered no security for the early sup- 
pression of the discontented, and would have divided the people 
into the vanquishers and the vanquished — would have enven- 
omed hatred, rather than restored affection, and would have en- 
tailed an incalculable and exhausting expense." 

This sketch of the situation that ensued upon the surrender of 
the Southern armies formed the basis of the President's position 
upon the provisional governments he had set up. He announced 
the complete acceptance by the South of the verdict of the war — 
emancipation and reunion. "In all the states," he said, "civil au- 
thorities have superseded the coercion of arms — the animosities 
of war are repeatedly yielding to the kindly effects of unrestricted 
social and commercial intercourse." The "one thing that yet re- 
mained to be done before the work of restoration was completed 
was admission of congress of the senators and representatives 
of the states whose people had rebelled/' He expressed deep 
regret in this omission, and impressively urged their admission 
on congress. He reminded congress that the purpose of the war, 
as he stated it, was that announced by his predecessor. The 
President dwelt especially upon the step taken in inviting the 
states to participate in the adoption of the thirteenth amendment 
to the constitution. Acceptance of this invitation was submitted 
as an act entitling the Southern members elected to admission to 
congress. The parting of the ways of the President and the 
radical majority came in the following, wherein the President 
defended his position upon the question of negro suffrage : 

"The relation of the general government towards the four mil- 
lion of inhabitants whom the war has called into freedom, have 
engaged our most serious consideration. On the propriety of at- 
tempting to make the f reedmen voters by the proclamation of the 
executive, I took for my counsel the constitution itself, the inter- 
pretation of that instrument by its authors and their contempora- 
ries, and recent legislation by congress. When at the first move- 
ment toward independence, the congress of the United States in- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 79 

structed the several states to institute governments of their own, 
they left each state to decide for itself the conditions of the em- 
ployment of the elective franchise. During the period of the 
Confederacy, there continued to exist a very great diversity in the 
qualifications of electors in the several states, and even within a 
state a distinction of qualification prevailed with regard to the of- 
ficers who were to be chosen. The constitution of the United 
States recognizes their diversities, when it enjoins that in the 
choice of members of the house of representatives of the United 
States, the electors in each state shall have the qualifications req- 
uisite for electors of the most numerous body of the state legisla- 
ture. After the formation of the constitution, it remained as be- 
fore the uniform usage for each state to enlarge the body of its 
electors according to its own judgment, and under this system 
one state after another has proceeded to increase the number of 
its electors, until now universal suffrage or something very near 
it, is the general rule. So fixed was this reservation of power 
in the hands of the people, and so unquestioned has been the in- 
terpretation of the courts, that, during the civil war, the late Pres- 
ident never harbored the purpose — certainly never avowed the 
purpose — of disregarding it, and in the acts of congress during 
that period, nothing can be found which, during the continuance 
of hostilities, much less after their close, would have sanctioned 
any departure, by the executive, from a policy which was so uni- 
formly observed. Moreover, a concession of the elective fran- 
chise to the freedmen, by act of the President of the United 
States, must have been extended to all colored men wherever 
found, and he must have established a change of suffrage in the 
Northern, Middle and Western States, not less than in the South- 
ern and Southwestern. 

Such an act would have created a new class of voters, and 
would have been an assumption of power by the President, which 
nothing in the constitution or laws of the United States would 
have warranted. On the other hand, every .danger of conflict is 
avoided when the settlement of the question is referred to the sev- 
eral states. They can each, for itself, decide on the measure, and 
whether it is to be adopted at once and absolutely, or introduced 
gradually and with conditions. In my judgment the freedmen, 
if they show patience and manly virtues, will sooner obtain a par- 
ticipation in the elective franchise through the states than through 
the general government, even if it had power to intervene. When 
the tumult of passion that has been raised by the suddenness of 
the social change has subsided, it may prove that they will receive 
the kindliest usage from some of those on whom they have here- 
tofore most closely depended. But while I have no doubt that 

80 Mississippi Historical Society. 

now, after the close of the war, it is not compatible for the gen- 
eral government to extend the elective franchise in the several 
states, it is equally clear that good faith requires the security of 
the.freedmen in their liberty and their property, their right to 
claim the just reward of their labor." 

Whatever may be thought of the President's- policy, his state- 
ment of it was certainly no challenge to combat. Argumentative 
rather than assertive, moderate in tone, it was at least entitled to 
respectful reception and reply from opponents. Bitterly radical 
as the Chicago Tribune was, it said through its Washington cor- 
respondent : "The general comment on the message may be ex- 
pressed in the frequent recurring phrase : 'Well, it is a tolerably 
good message — better a good deal than we !had reason to ex- 
pect/ " Rhodes says of the message, pages 546 and 548, of His- 
tory of the United States : "The excellent style and tenor of this 
message met in a conciliatory way the hostile or critical attitude 
of a part of congress. The message was well received by every 
one except the extreme radicals." "It was a message," says the 
Nation, "which any Democrat as well as any American may well 
read with pride." On the next page in apparent and incompre- 
hensible contradiction to his tribute to the President's message, 
Rhodes says: "Approval of the President's policy was impos- 
sible. Republican senators and representatives were jealous of 
the prerogatives of their "body and were at one in the opinion 
that a business so important should be managed by the joint ac- 
tion of congress and the executive. The part of the President 
should have been by friendly co-operation to make the senate and 
house conditions less difficult of acceptance by the South." 

If it is admitted that congress was justified in contending for 
its prerogatives, the question was at least debatable. In proceed- 
ing with the work of reconstruction without convening congress 
in special session Johnson but adopted the theory that Lincoln 
had emphatically asserted in dealing with the cases of Arkansas 
and Louisiana in 18G4. On that occasion, according to Blaine's 
"Twenty Years in Congress," page 43, Vol. II, senators and 
representatives who disagreed with him "raised no contest, be- 
cause they found the people united and enthusiastic in support 
of Mr. Lincoln." Having in mind the following words of Lin- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 81 

coin in his last cabinet meeting, the day before his tragic and 
untimely death, there was no reason in the denunciation heaped 
on his successor for not deferring the provisional government 
to congressional "prerogative." "I think it providential that this 
great rebellion is crushed just as congress has adjourned, and 
there are none of the disturbing elements of tiiat body to em- 
barrass us. If we are wise and discreet we shall reanimate the 
states and get their governments in successful operation, and 
the union re-established before congress comes together in De- 
cember." The states had been "reanimated" by President John- 
son, hewing strictly, according to all constructions of his prede- 
cessor's utterances bearing on the question, to Lincoln's lines. 
And yet Blaine says there "would have been no conflict with con- 
gress had Lincoln lived," when the conflict with the same men 
that flew at Johnson when congress met, began before Lincoln so 
untimely and calamitously passed from earth. "We must ex- 
tinguish our resentments if we expect harmony and union," he 
said, in the cabinet meeting above referred to. "Xhere is too 
much of a desire, too, on the part of some of our good friends 
to be masters, to interfere with and dictate to these states, to treat 
people not as fellow citizens ; there is too little respect for their 
rights. I Ido not sympathize in these feelings." Johnson, like 
Lincoln, and Seward, proceeded upon the idea of the indestructi- 
bility of the states. No compromise seems possible between that 
view and the one held by Stevens and Sumner — that the South- 
ern states "were dead." "Had Lincoln lived" the conflict might 
have resulted differently, though this is doubtful. But there can 
be no doubt that Lincoln's living would not have prevented a con- 
flict with the men in whose feelings he "had no sympathy." This 
want of "sympathy" had appeared in his withholding his signa- 
ture from a reconstruction bill adopted by congress a year before 
the end of the war. He followed it up by a proclamation, July 
8th, 1864, in which he adhered to his own plan, "propounded by 
proclamation in December last." He objected to the bill because 
he "was unprepared to be inflexibly committed to any single plan 
of restoration, or to have the governments already adopted and 
installed in Louisiana and Arkansas set aside and held for 

82 Mississippi Historical Society. 

naught" (by it) "or to declare a constitutional competency in con- 
gress to abolish slavery in the states/' "Union, Disunion and 
Reunion," by S. S. Cox, page 341, is quoted : "The proclamation 
of Mr. Lincoln with reference to reconstruction * * * 
gave rise to great dissatisfaction among some very- earnest Re- 
publicans. It was in this connection that Senator Wade of Ohio 
and Representative Henry Winter Davis published a vigorous 
protest. It arraigned the conduct of the President, * * * 
charged him with having perpetrated 'a studied outrage upcn the 
legislative authority of the people.' Nevertheless a bill similar to 
the one Lincoln refused to sign, failed in the next congress. The 
conflict slumbered until it came to Johnson to tread the path of 
prerogative and reconstruction Lincoln blazed. 

With the message for his text Thad Stevens delivered gauge of, 
battle to the President. His speech, December 18th, 1SG5, was 
the opening gun of a struggle that showered calamities and curses 
on the South, and that for many years perpetuated and deep- 
ened the lines of political sectional division. - He said in enumer- 
ating his views upon the status of the Southern states, and of 
their treatment. "They must," he said, "come in the Union as 
new states, or remain out conquered provinces. * * * As 
there are no symptoms that the people of these provinces will be 
prepared to participate in constitutional government for some 
years, I know of no arrangement so proper for them as territor- 
ial government. There they can learn the principles of freedom, 
and eat the fruits of foul rebellion. * * * In territories con- 
gress fixes the qualifications of electors ; v and I know of no better 
place, nor better occasion for the conquered rebels and the con- 
queror to practice justice to all men, and accustom themselves to 
make and obey equal laws. * * * According to my judgment 
they ought never to be recognized as capable of acting in the 
Union, or of being counted as valid states until the constitution 
shall have been so amended as to * * * secure perpetual as- 
cendancy to the party of the Union." 

From discrediting the President's reconstruction plan he pro- 
ceeded to elaborate his own. Discussing the future representa- 
tion to be accorded the South, he suggested changing the basis 


Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 83 

"to actual votes" ; that unless the Southern states gave suffrage 
to the negroes their representatives should be reduced accord- 
ingly. "With the basis unchanged," he said, they will at the very 
first election take possession of the White House and the halls 
of congress. I need not depict the ruin that would follow. As- 
sumption Of the rebel debt or repudiation of the Northern would 
early follow. The oppression of the freedmen; the re-amend- 
ment of their state constitutions and the re-establishment of slav- 
ery would surely follow." This budget of 'horrors he concocted 
Mr. Stevens would arrest by adopting what subsequently materi- 
alized in the 14th amendment. "It is plain," he said, "that this 
amendment must be consummated before the defunct states are 
admitted to be capable of state action, or it can never be. If we 
have not yet been sufficiently scourged for one national sin to 
teach us to do justice to all God's creatures without distinction of 
race or color, we must expect the still more heavy vengeance of 
an offended Father, still increasing his affliction, as he increased 
the severity of the plaguts of Egypt, until the*Tyrant consented 
to do justice, and when the Tyrant repented of his reluctant con- 
sent and attempted to re-enslave the people, as some Southern 
Tyrants are attempting to do now, he filled the Red Sea with 
broken chariots and drowned horses and strewed the shores with 
the corpses of men. Sir, this doctrine of a white man's govern- 
ment is as atrocious as the infamous sentiment that damned the 
late chief justice to everlasting fame, and I fear to everlasting 
fire." Thus this extraordinary man, as described by S. S. Cox, 
"unfolded iwith no unmusical nor unimpressive voice his auda- 
cious, sweeping and vindictive policies. History demands its re- 
production for it presents the whole architectural design of racial 

Above all of the avengers who counseled and concerted to- 
gether for the punishment and degradation of the South, Thad- 
deus Stevens towered like Lucifer in the Satanic court. "He 
Was," says,S. S. Cox, in "Three Decades of Federal Legislation," 
"even more than Judge Howe or Mr. Sumner, the construction- 
ist lof the new order and the obstructionist to rebuilding of the 
older. In the house of representatives, early in the First session 

84 Mississippi Historical Society. 

of the 38th congress— on the 5th of December, 1865, he arose to 
dictatorship. He commanded universal party obedience. That 
congress had its Washburns, its Wilsons, its Binghams, its Shell- 
abergers, its Blaines. It had but one Thaddeus Stevens. This 
man was not superficial. He was profound. He knew that the 
times called either for retrogression, from the war policies or or- 
ganic and risky forwardness. He would not carry out the con- 
stitution. He would at least amend it." Stevens was destined 
to prove the avenging spirit of the South's "Philippi." 

In the meantime a resolution was introduced in die senate call- 
ing on the President for information of "the condition of that 
portion of the United States lately in rebellion," etc. — to furnish to 
the senate "copies of such reports as he may have received from 
the officers or agents. appointed to visit this portion of the Union, 
including especially any reports from Maj. Gen. Carl Schurz." 
In complying with this request Mr. Johnson also invited the at- 
tention of the senate to a report of Lieut. Gen. Grant, who had 
just returned from a tour of inspection though the South. 

Replying to the Senate enquiry the President said: 

That the people of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, 
Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana. Arkansas and Tennessee, have 
reorganized their respective state governments and "are yielding 
obedience to the laws and government of the United States" with 
more willingness and greater promptitude, than under the cir- 
cumstances could have reasonably been anticipated. The pro- 
posed amendment to the Constitution, providing for the abolition 
of slavery forever within the limits of the country, has been rati- 
fied by each one of these states, with the exception of Mississippi, 
from which no official information has been received, and in 
nearly all of them measures have been adopted, or are now pend- 
ing to confer upon freedmen the privileges which are essential to 
their comfort, protection and security. 

In "that portion of the Union lately in rebellion" the aspect of 
affairs is more promising than in view of all the circumstances 
could well have been expected. The people throughout the entire 
South evince a laudable desire to renew their allegiance to the 
government, and to repair pursuits, and abiding faith is enter- 
tained that their actions. will conform to their professions, the 
supremacy of the constitution and the laws of the United States, 
their loyalty will be unreservedly given to the government, whose 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 85 

leniency they cannot fail to appreciate, and whose fostering care 
will soon restore them to t a condition of prosperity. It is true 
that in some of the states, the demoralizing effects of the war are 
to be seen in occasional disorders ; but these are local in character, 
not frequent in occurrence, and are rapidly disappearing as the 
authority of the civil law is extended and sustained. Perplexing 
questions are naturally to be expected from the great and sudden 
change in the relations between the two races ; but systems are 
gradually developing under which the freedman will receive the 
protection to which he is justly entitled and by means of his labor, 
make himself a useful and independent member in the community 
in which he has a home. 

From all the information in my possession, and from that which 
I have recently derived from the most reliable authority I am in- 
duced to cherish the belief that the sectional animosity is surely 
and rapidly merging itself into a spirit of Nationality and that 
the representation connected with a properly adjusted system of 
taxation, will result in a harmonious restoration of the relation of 
the states to the National Union. 

As the Schurz report was used with great effect as an author- 
ity by the reconstruction committee, it is proper to state its ori- 
gin. As related by the author in "reminiscences" published in 
recent years, Gen. Schurz, who possessed decided, but erratic tal- 
ents, was so opposed to the policy of the President's proclamation 
establishing a provisional government in North Carolina that he 
wrote him a letter of remonstrance. This brought him a sum- 
mons to Washington from his home in the West. His reminis- 
cences are quoted : 

"President Johnson received me with the assurance that he had 
read my letter with great interest and appreciation, and that he 
was earnestly considering the views I had presented in them. 
But in one respect, he said, I had entirely mistaken his intentions. 
His North Carolina proclamation was not to be understood as* 
laying down a general rule for the reconstruction of all states 
lately in rebellion, it was to be regarded as merely experimental ; 
and he thought that the condition of things in North Carolina was 
especially favorable for the making of such an experiment. As 
to the gulf states, he was Very doubtful, even anxious.' He 
wished to see those states restored to their constitutional rela- 
tions with the general government as quickly as possible; but he 
did not know whether it could be done with safety to the Union 
men and to the emancipated slaves. He therefore requested me 

86 Mississippi Historical Society. 

to visit those states for the purpose of reporting to him whatever 
information I could gather as to the existing condition of things, 
and of suggesting to him such measures as my observations might 
lead me to believe advisable." 

On the way he tarried in Philadelphia, visiting some German 
friends who entertained him with a spiritual seance. The spirit 
of Lincoln being called, "I asked," reads the reminiscences, 
"whether he knew for what purpose President Johnson had sum- 
moned me to Washington. The answer came: 'He wants you to 
make an important journey for him.' I asked where the journey 
would take me. Answer: 'He will tell you tomorrow.' I 
asked further whether I should undertake that journey. Answer : 
'Yes, do not fail.' " 

Of the genuineness of this revelation the author seems to have 
been fully convinced. Quite as remarkable is what follows, in 
the reminiscent relation of what passed between Gen. Schurz and 
President. Johnson; on whom he called as soon as he reached 

"The President's request," Gen. Schurz* says in his reminis- 
cences, "came as a great surprise to me." This indicates that he 
had not been deeply impressed by the tip given him by Lincoln's 
ghost. Instead of taking it as a mandate from spirit land, it 
seems he intuitively traced it to Secretary of War Stanton: 

"I went to Secretary of War Stanton to learn whether the 
proposition made to me by the President had been suggested by 
him. He assured me it had not. He told me that President 
Johnson was set upon by all sorts of influences and that what he 
most needed was to learn the truth." Apparently still unsatis- 
fied, General Schurz sought further counsel. "I also," he says, 
"consulted Chief Justice Chase, who told me that, in his opinion, 
I had an opportunity for rendering valuable service to the coun- 
try, and that I must not think of declining." 

Thus advised by two of the most advanced radicals, and oppo- 
nents of the President's North Carolina plan, he decided to ac- 
cept the President's mission. 

"The next day I informed President Johnson that I was willing 
to undertake the journey. In order that everything might be 
clear between us, I repeated to him what I had stated in former 
conversations and correspondence; that so far as I was then in- 
formed I considered his reconstruction policy ill advised and 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 87 

fraught with danger, but that if my observations should show 
this view to be erroneous, no pride of opinion would prevent me 
from saying so ; I should consider it my only duty to tell him the 
truth. President Johnson cordially declared himself satisfied 
and * * * I set out, and arrived at Hiltonhead, South Caro- 
lina, on the 15th of July." 

This story is unbelievable. By the testimony of friends and 
enemies alike, President Johnson was a man of positive character 
and of extraordinary tenacity, even obstinacy, in adhering to his 
opinions, prejudices and purposes. Indubitably, such a person 
would not have selected one to investigate the Southern situation, 
and make a report which would be a crucial test of the ^momen- 
tous policy he had initiated, who was avowedly opposed to it. 
President Johnson , could not have regarded his North Carolina 
action as "experimental." In its nature and scope such a restora- 
tion of government could not have been considered other than an 
irrevocable advance toward full state sovereignty. It was provi- 
sional only to the extent of the performance of certain prescribed 
acts preliminary' and preparatory to final, constitutional, restora- 
tion of statehood. When these were complied with, it was Pres- 
ident Johnson's fundamental contention that reconstruction and 
restoration should be unimpeachable and complete. 

But contradiction of the Schurz relation does not rest alone on 
inherent improbability. It will be shown to be susceptible to de- 
molishment by specific proof. First, a subsequent chapter of 
reminiscences is quoted : 

"During the first six weeks of my travels in the South I did 
not receive/a single word from the President or any member of 
the administration ; but through the newspapers and the talk go- 
ing on around me I learned that the President had appointed pro- 
visional governors and taken active measures to put the 'States 
lately in rebellion into a self governing condition. :!: * * 
When early in July I had taken leave of the President to set out 
on my tour of investigation, he, as I have already mentioned, had 
assured me that the North Carolina proclamation was not to be 
regarded as a plan resolved upon ; that it was merely tentative 
and experimental ; that before proceeding further he would wait 
and see; and that to aid him by furnishing him information and 
advice while he was 'waiting and seeing' was the object of my 
mission. Had not this been the understanding I should not have 

88 Mississippi Historical Society. 

taken the wearisome and ungrateful journey. But now he did 
not wait and see; on the contrary, he rushed forward the political 
reconstruction of the Southern States — apparently without re- 
gard to consequences !" 

This all occurred "early in July," says General Schurz. But for 
the "understanding at that time that the President would go no 
further until I furnished him information, advice," etc., "I should 
not have taken this wearisome and ungrateful journey." The ef- 
fort to convict the President of bad faith is transfixed by the re- 
corded fact that he had already gone further; on June 13th or 
a month before Gen. Schurz left Washington on his journey, 
the North Carolina provisional government was duplicated in a 
proclamation establishing a like one in Mississippi! The others 
followed in close succession. When Mr. Schurz reached Hil- 
ton Head, July loth, to begin observations which were, accord- 
ing to his. account as quoted, to be embraced in the report which 
was to aid the President in deciding whether the gulf states were 
to be restored to the Union, the last one had already ^been 
brought in under a provisional government proclamation. 

The conflict here shown between the Schurz Reminiscences 
and the facts of history is as strange as it is absolute. Inter- 
preting this Southern mission through the light of contemporary 
events a different conclusion of the "understanding" on which 
it was conceived is forced. Most probably the President, fore- 
seeing a struggle when congress met, must have expected to use 
the report to uphold his provisional, government acts. Knowing 
that Mr. Schurz was a fugitive from Prussia because of detes- 
tation of a government founded on military despotism,, Mr. John- 
son counted on his support in a plan which contemplated an 
early removal of troops, and the restoration of self-government 
to the Southern states. This may have been his expectation in 
spite of an expressed opposition to certain details of, the scheme. 
That he miscalculated most grievously he was soon to learn. 
On his "wearisome and ungrateful journey" General Schurz an- 
ticipated his official report by letters to a Northern newspaper, 
of "picturesque views of Southern conditions with some reflec- 
tions thereon"; his letters furnishing ammunition which the 

Mississippi's Provisional Government— McNeily, 89 

President's enemies used effectually for condemning or discred- 
iting his policy of Southern reconstruction. Or as a Washing- 
ton special of August 27th, the time of the Schurz mix-up in 
Mississippi affairs, states: "It is understood that the course of 
General Carl Schurz, now travelling in the South by orders from 
government, does not meet the approval of the President, and it 
is expected that he will be recalled soon. It is alleged that he 
writes for Northern newspapers his impressions of what he has 
seen, and publishes opinions as to what policy ought to be pur- 
sued towards the Southern states, instead of making his report 
direct to the War Department for the information of the Presi- 

In any critical examination, Gen. Schurz's unveracious remi- 
niscences of over forty years after, bear all the seeming of in- 
tent to gloss over his ill requital of trust reposed in him, by 
charging the President with violating an "understanding," a 
charge completely contradicted by the recorded facts. 

Upon returning to Washington Gen. Schurz states, in his "remi- 
niscences" that he was received by the President "without a 
smile," with a "sullen mien;" and the information that "I need 
not go to the^ trouble on his account of writing out an elaborate 
report of my conclusions and expressions in a connected shape." 
But the report was nevertheless written and filed with the Pres- 
ident, to serve the ends of the radical leaders who had then or- 
ganized to make war on the President's policies. The conclu- 
sions of General Schurz were summarized at the close of the re- 
port as follows: 

"I may sum up all I have said in a few words. If nothing 
were necessary but to restore the machinery of government to 
the states lately in rebellion in point of form, the movements 
made to that end by the people of the South might be considered 
satisfactory. But if it is required that the Southern people 
should also accommodate themselves to the results of the war in 
point of spirit, those movements fall far short of what must be 
insisted upon. The loyalty of the masses and most of the lead- 
ers of the Southern people consists in submission to necessity. 
There is except in individual instances, an entire absence of that 
national spirit which forms the basis of true loyalty and patriot- 

90 Mississippi Historical Society. 

ism. The emancipation of the slaves is submitted to only in so 
far as chattel slavery in the old form could not be kept up. But 
although the freedman is no longer considered the property of 
the individual master, he is considered the slave of society, and all 
independent state legislation will have the tendency to make him 
such. The ordinances abolishing slavery, passed by the conven- 
tions under the pressure of circumstances will not be looked upon 
as barring the establishment of a new form of servitude. Prac- 
tical attempts on the part of the Southern people to deprive the 
freedmen of his rights, may result in bloody collision, and will 
certainly plunge Southern society into restless fluctuations and 
anarchical confusion. Such evils can be prevented only by con- 
tinuing the control of the national government in the states, lately 
in rebellion, until free labor is fully developed and firmly estab- 
lished, and the advantages and blessings of the new order of 
things, have disclosed themselves. This desirable result will be 
hastened by a firm declaration on the part of the government, 
that national control will not cease in the South, until such re- 
sults are secured. Only in this way can that security be estab- 
lished, in the South, which will render numerous immigration 
possible and such immigration would materially aid a favorable 
development of things. The solution of the problem would be 
very much facilitated by enabling all loyal and free labor elements 
in the South to exercise a healthy influence upon legislation. It 
will hardly be possible to secure the freedman against oppressive 
class legislation and private persecution, unless he be endowed 
with a certain political power. As to the future peace and har- 
mony of the Union, it is of the highest importance that the people 
lately in rebellion, be not permitted to build up another 'peculiar 
institution,' whose spirit is in conflict with the fundamental prin- 
cipals of our political systems, for as long as they cherish inter- 
ests peculiar to them in preference to those they have in common 
with the rest of the Americans, their loyalty to the Union will 
always be uncertain. I desire not to be understood as saying 
there are no well-meaning men, who were compromised in the 
rebellion. There are many, but neither their number or their in- 
fluence is strong enough to control the manifest tendency of the 
popular spirit. There are great reasons for hope, that a deter- 
mined policy on the part of the national government, will pro- 
duce innumerable and valuable conversions. This consideration 
counsels leniency as to persons, such as is demanded by the hu- 
mane and enlightened spirit of our times, and vigor and firmness 
in carrying out principles, such as is demanded by the national 
sense of justice and the exigencies of our situation." 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNjeily. 91 

To break the force of the Schurz report President Johnson 
had requested Gen. Grant to travel through the South, and make 
report of his views, which was as follows : 

Headquarters Armies of the United States, 

Washington, D C., Dec. 1, 18G5. 
To His Excellency, Andrezv Johnson, President of the United 
Sir: In reply to your note of the IGth instant, requesting a re- 
port from me giving" such information as I may be possessed of, 
coming within the scope of the inquiries made by the senate of 
the United States in their resolution of the 12th instant, I have 
the honor to submit the following: 

With your approval, and also that of the honorable Secretary 
of War, I left Washington City on the 2Tth of last month for 
the purpose of making a tour of inspection through some of the 
Southern States, or states . lately in rebellion, and to see what 
changes -were necessary to be made in the disposition of the mili- 
•tary forces of the country; how these forces could be reduced 
and expenses curtailed, etc., etc., and to learn, as far as possible, 
the feelings and intentions of the citizens of those states toward 
the general government. 


Both in traveling and while stopping I saw much and con- 
versed freely with the citizens of those states, as well as with of- 
ficers of the army who have been stationed among them. 

The following are the conclusions come to by me : 

I am satisfied that the mass of the thinking men of the South 
accept the present situation of affairs in good faith. The ques- 
tions which have heretofore divided the sentiment of the people 
of the two sections — slavery and state rights, or the right of a 
state to secede from the Union — they regard as having been set- 
tled forever by the highest tribunal, arms, that man can resort to. 

I was pleased to learn from the leading men whom I met that 
they not only accepted the decision arrived at as final, hut, now the 
smoke of battle has cleared away, and time has been given for 
reflection, that this decision has been a fortunate one for the 
whole country, they receiving like benefits from it with those 
who opposed them in the field and in council. 

"Four years of war, during which law was only executed at 
the point of the bayonet throughout the states in rebellion, have 
left the people, possibly, in a condition not to yield that ready 
obedience to civil authority, the American people have generally 
been in the habit of yielding. This would render the presence of 

92 Mississippi Historical Society. 

9mall garrisons throughout those states necessary until such t!:: 
as labor returns to its proper channel, and civil authority is ful 
established. I did not meet any one, either those holding plan 
under the government or citizens of the Southern states, v.; 
think it practicable to withdraw the military from the South 
present. The white and the black mutually require the protc 
tion of the government. There is such universal acquiescent 
in the authority of the general government throughout the p< r 
tions of the country visited by me that the mere presence of a mi!. 
tary force, without regard to numbers, is sufficient to maintai:. 
order. The good of the country, and economy, require that the 
force kept in the interior, where there are many freedmen (else- 
where in the Southern States than at forts upon the sea coast no 
force is necessary) should all be white troops. The reasons for 
this are obvious without mentioning many of them. The pres- 
ence of black troops, lately slaves, demoralize labor, both by their 
advice and by furnishing in their camps a resort for the freedmen 
for long distances around. White troops generally excite no 
opposition, and therefore a small number of them can maintain 
order. Colored troops must be kept in bodies sufficient to defend 
themselves. It is not the thinking men who would use violence 
toward any class of troops sent among them by the general gov- 
ernment, but the ignorant in some places might; and the late 
slave seems to be imbued with the idea that the property of his 
late master should by right belong to him, or at least should have 
no protection from the colored soldier. There is danger of col- 
lisions being brought on by such causes. 

My observations lead me to the conclusion that the citizens of 
the Southern States are anxious to return to self-government 
within the Union as soon as possible; that while reconstructing 
they want and require protection from the government ; that they 
•are in earnest in wishing to do what they think is required by the 
government, not humiliating to them as citizens ; and that if such 
a course were pointed out they would pursue it in good faith. It 
is to be regretted that there cannot be a greater commingling at 
this time between the citizens of the two sections, and particularly 
of those intrusted with the law-making power. 

. . . In some instances, I am sorry to say, the freedman's 
mind does not seem to be disabused of the idea that a freedman 
has the right to live without care or provision for the future. 
The effect of the belief in division of lands is idleness and accu- 
mulation in camps, towns and cities, in such cases I think it 
will be found that vice and disease will tend to the extermina- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government— McNeil J. 93 

tion or great reduction of the colored race. It cannot be ex- 
pected that the opinions held by men at the South for years can 
be changed in a day, and therefore the freedmen require for a 
few years, not only laws to protect them, but the fostering care 
Df those who will give them good counsel, and on whom they 

These two papers respectively comprise the two conclusions 
of Southern conditions upon which the President and the radi- 
cals divided ; the former adopting the Grant report and the lat- 
ter, that of Gen. Schurz. It was one of the curiosities of Ameri- 
can politics that a few years later the leader of the opposition to 
President Grant's oppressive Southern policy should be this same 
Carl Schurz, then a member of the Uniited States senate. 

Of these reports Blaine says, Vol. II, p. 164, "Twenty Years 
in Congress": "It was soon perceived that in the (President's 
anxiety to parry the effect of Mr. Schurz's report he had placed 
Gen. Grant in a false position — a position no one realized more 
promptly than the General himself. Further investigation led 
him to a thorough understanding of the subject and to a- funda- 
mental change of opinion. It led him to approve the reconstruc- 
tion measures of the Republican party." This statement of a 
"prompt change of opinion" by Gen. Grant is not borne out by 
history. Testifying before a congressional committee July 18th, 
1867, nearly two years after his report, he said : "I know that 
immediately after the close of the rebellion there was a very fine 
feeling in the South, and I thought we ought to take advantage 
of jjt as soon as possible." This is virtual condemnation of "the 
Republican reconstruction measures." That the President re- 
garded him as standing with him more than six months later was 
shown by his appointment of Gen. Grant as Secretary of War 
when he removed Stanton upon the reconstruction issue. It 
was not until the bitter quarrel with the President, growing out 
of that misguided appointment, in 1868, that there was a break 
between him and Gen. Grant, who was then taken up by the Re- 
publicans as their candidate for the Presidency., 

After debating the message and reconstruction some days con- 
gress adjourned December 21 for the holidays. The state's dele- 
gation having "knocked" at the door of congress, which was not 

94: Mississippi Historical Society. 

opened to them, returned home somewhat like the sheep of "Lit- 
tle Bo-Peep." Some were quoted as anticipating- their admis- 
sion, upon the reassemblage after the holidays. But Senator Al- 
corn voiced a different view. It was apparent that he had al- 
ready, from "the tops of a high mountain," seen as in a vision, 
a fair promise of preferment to high place; that he had only to 
"stoop to conquer." Thereafter he and his people pursued dif- 
ferent political pathways. His colleague, Judge Sharkey, re- 
mained in Washington to represent the state's interests before 
the reconstruction committee, then incubating the radical recon- 
struction scheme. From being an extreme opponent of secession 
and war, he was, thenceforth, the most uncompromising foe of 
the revolutionary and unconstitutional congressional plan. He, 
in fact, became the recognized leader in opposing the, at first, 
popular idea of its acceptance as the best that could be expected. 
During. the months of 1865, after the close of the war, and by 
the 186G planting season, thousands of negroes returned to their 
former homes from the army and the freedmen's camps. They 
found a welcome there, with hard work and scant rations to 
what they had been used. Economic conditions were worse in 
some sections of the state than in others. Ruin and want were 
most menacing probably in the Delta, on the large plantations. 
This had been debatable ground for the two years prior to the 
end of the war. To a very great extent it had been stripped of 
work stock, cotton, provisions and labor. The levees having 
been cut by the Union forces in the upper Delta, there had been 
the waste and destruction of overflow. The custom from the 
settlement of the country had been to carry heavy liabilities for 
purchase of slaves, mules, for clearing land. When the end 
came, with slave property vanished, plantations run down, work 
stock stolen or perished, labor demoralized and scattered abroad, 
the planter looked forth upon a dark prospect truly. Debts con- 
tracted on the basis of negro property fell with crushing weight 
on debtor and creditor. Under such a stress of adversities the 
rich lands represented in available value but a tithe of such in- 
debtedness. With the close of the war it was the first object of 
a large proportion of planters to so arrange with mortgage 

Mississippi's Provisional Government— McNeily. Oo 

debtors as to retain tenure of their homes. Such accommoda- 
tions would have been impracticable but for one thing; and this 
was that beyond the creditor's foreclosure, lay the problem of 
what to do with the lands. Under such a doubtful situation, 
merchants preferred risking- supplies for growing a crop, to pos- 
sessing the plantations. Only for the tempting price of cotton, 
the old debt would have largely been given up. 

Thus environed, the people had, after the surrender of the 
armies and the return of peace, gathered up the blind and 
crippled old mules, the rusted and broken implements, and to the 
extent of their power raised a corn crop and enough cotton for 
the supply of necessities of life. Under the pressure of this 
duty, joined with the stimulus of 50 cents per pound for cotton, 
they arranged their affairs as best they could under the new or- 
der, for growing a cotton crop. Levees were patched and fences 
rebuilt. With such work stock as had been saved or could be 
had, the crop was pitched. In various ways negotiations were 
effected for the needed capital and supplies. In spite of all diffi- 
culties, and the misguided meddling of the bureau officers, there 
was the promise of a successful first year of planting with the 
freedmen in place of the slave. The general contract was wages 
of from six to fifteen dollars a month and rations. Under such 
adjustment there was a fair degree of content and satisfaction 
and on the whole the freedmen behaved well. The old customs 
of orderly conduct and obedience to authority prevailed. In all 
the license and profligacy of the times, there was not a case of 
violence towards a white woman or child by a negro reported 
through the public prints. The main, and grave, industrial 
trouble was the natural interpretation by the negro population 
of emancipation as the millennium of idleness and vagrancy. 
Their working capacity was cut, approximately, in half. It was 
looked upon as necessary to demonstrate their state of freedom, 
to move from the place where they had been held as slaves. 

Under the mould of life's duties and necessities, and out of the 
social wreckage of the old regime, there was such disposition of 
the social and economic forces as the new order ordained. 
There was, above all, the inspiration of an honest intent to accept 
and make the best of the situation. 

96 Mississippi Historical Society. 

At best the outlook was a precarious one. How precarious 
may be read in the estimate in the March number of DcBow's 
Review of a cotton crop total of only a million and a half bales, 
or less than half the yield in 18G0. The reasoning of such a cal- 
culation is quoted : "These figures are not likely to be increased 
by anything that is likely to happen, and may be greatly reduced 
by the ignorance, neglect or desertion of the laboring forces, 
which is more likely to occur than not and reduce the crop to 
one or one million two hundred thousand bales. No account is 
taken of the application of white labor to cotton, beyond what was 
applied to it before the war. The extensive mortality of the war 
has made white labor at the South very scarce, and so far it is 
absorbed in the necessary pursuits of the mechanic arts and 
trade, which have been furnishing more lucrative employment. 
The increase of white labor at the South, so far as the next crop 
is concerned is too trifling to be taken into account. " 

Absorbed in the problem of domestic matters, of ^providing 
the means of livelihood for their families, Southern men gave 
no heed commensurate with its perils, totiie storm that was gath- 
ering at Washington. The year opened with the people of Mis- 
sissippi engaged in arranging and providing for crop raising; 
for testing the availability and reliability of the freedmen as a 
labor dependence. The return of the "abandoned and confis- 
cated lands" to their lawful owners had largely dispelled the ex- 
pectation of land ownership by partition of the same among the 
negroes. As the price of cotton ranged from forty to fifty cents 
a pound, the beginning of the first year under the new industrial 
order ,_ was not without promise of prosperity and fortune. With 
the then well trained, if disorganized, labor to be had for from 
ten to twelve dollars a month, with rations, capital and credit 
were, it is said, only too easily had. An article in the Vicksburg 
Herald had the following: 

"Northern capitalists, with their usual keen appreciation of 
pecuniary profit, have not been slow to seize upon the opportuni- 
ties offered them for making money in the rich bottom lands of 
Mississippi, and have rented plantations at apparently unreason- 
able prices. It may be estimated that bottom lands will gener- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 97 

ally sell for about twenty dollars per acre, and they will rent for 
about one-half the selling- prices. 

"The people of Mississippi now intend to devote all their 
energy to making- good crops of cotton. There is every prob- 
ability that the negroes will work tolerably well with proper su- 
pervision and care; and if a man has not ready money he can 
rent his plantation for this year, and be able with the proceeds 
to make a good start for himself in 1867. One year or five would 
be but a short time in which to recover from the effects of this 
tremendous ordeal through which we have passed, and if in 1870 
the Mississippi planters can equal their production of cotton in 
1860, they and the country will be more than satisfied." 

Woefully fallacious though it proved, it was well to feed hope 
on such optimism. Stripped of illusion, all but the bravest 
would have despaired. It was in blissful ignorance of its store 
that the future was faced. December 31st, the state commis- 
sioner of the Freedmen's Bureau, Col. Samuel Thomas, issued 
the following general order: 

"The time has arrived when it is important that the freedmen 
of this state should make contracts for labor during the coming 
year, in order that a crop may be secured. 

"It is important that the freedmen should feel their obliga- 
tions to society and civil government, as the time will come when 
their interests must be committed to the state, with no other 
agency to care for them. There can be no better time for Freed- 
men to familiarize themselves with business life and common 
forms of law, under civil government, than at a time when offi- 
cers of the general government are here, whose duty it is to see 
that their rights are respected. In. fact, we will fail in the dis- 
charge of our whole duty,to them, if we do not take every means 
within our power to instill into their minds respect for the civil 
law and the sacredness of all contracts and obligations. There 
can be no better time for the citizens of the state, who have not 
thoroughly recognized the present status of the freedmen, to ac- 
custom themselves, as officers of the state government, to lay 
aside their prejudices, grant the Freedmen their rights, to which 
they are, as free men, entitled and to protect them by just admin- 
istration of law. The sooner they are protected by the power 
that must eventually be charged with the security for their per- 
sons and property, the better for both classes. 

It is therefore ordered that no rules or regulations will be is- 
sued by officers of this bureau, with reference to the freedmen 

98 Mississippi Historical Society. 

contracting. As the following clause of the state law is sub- 
stantially what has heretofore been the regulation of this depart- 
ment of the general government the attention of officers, planters 
and freedmen, is invited to its requirements: 

" 'Section 6. Be it further enacted, That all contracts for la- 
bor made with freedmen, free negroes and niulattoes, for a 
longer period than one month, shall be in writing and in dupli- 
cate, attested and read to said freedman, free negro or mulatto, 
by a ibeat, city or county officer, or two disinterested white per- 
sons of the county in which the labor is to be performed, of which 
each party shall have one ; and said contracts shall be taken and 
held as entire contracts; and if the laborer shall quit the service, 
without good cause, he shall forfeit his wages for that year, up 
to the time of quitting/ 

"It will be seen that magistrates register contracts, and that 
the parties who contract are left to regulate the conditions, wages, 

"It will 'be the duty of officers of this bureau to see that the 
freedmen are properly contracted with; while they have no 
power to interfere with the action of the magistrate, or the ad- 
ministration of the r>tate law, they will on all occasions act as the 
next friend of the freedmen ; give them pro'per advice in all mat- 
ters pertaining to contracts; and, on complaint being made that 
the colored people are not being allowed to exercise all their 
privileges as freedmen, or that their ignorance is being taken 
advantage of in any way so as to inveigle them into oppressive 
contracts, a full statement of the matter will be forwarded to this 
office, that the proper action may be taken for their protection. 

"Officers of the bureau must not relax their vigilance in watch- 
ing the exercise of authority by the state officials, and should be 
prompt in reporting all cases that need the interference of higher 

"It is to be hoped that the civil officers to whom this is com- 
mitted will be actuated by a spirit of justice and equity, and that 
they will take into account on all occasions, the extreme ignor- 
ance of freedmen in all business or legal matters, and explain, 
in a spirit of kindness, all obligations that may come before them 
for approval" 

This order, while liberal in tone and seemingly fair in intent, 
could not disguise the odium of a tyrannical, meddlesome sys- 
tem. It was followed up by a long circular to "the colored peo- 
ple of Mississippi," which is quoted from: 

"I hope you are all convinced that you are not to receive prop- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 99 


erty of any kind from the government, and that you must labor 
for what you get like other people. The officers of the govern- 
ment will not protect you in idleness. I often hear that you are 
crowding into towns, refuse to hire out, and are waiting to see 
what the government will do for you. As the representative of 
the government, I tell you that is very foolish ; and your refusal 
to work is used by your enemies to your injury. I knotv you 
can get good wages with considerate employers, who will treat 
you well and pay for all you do. The state cannot and ought 
not to let any man lie about idle, without property, doing mis- 
chief. A vagrant law is right in principle. It cannot ask the 
civil officers to leave you idle, to beg or steal. If they find any 
of you without business and means of living, they will do right 
if they treat you as bad persons, and take away your misused 

•'Some of you have the absurd notion that if you put your 
hands to a contract, you will somehow be made slaves. This is 
all nonsense, made up by some foolish or wicked person. There 
is no danger of this kind to fear ; nor will you be branded when 
you get on a plantation. Any white man treating you so would 
be punished. Your danger lies exactly in the other direction. 
If you do not have some occupation, you will be treated as va- 
grants, and made to labor on public works. 

"You must be obedient to the law. I do not think the people 
of Mississippi have made all laws that relate to you as they ought 
to have done. But, even if there be some things denied to you 
as yet which you wish to gain, you cannot get them by disobe- 
dience and idleness. You cannot make people treat you well, 
by showing that you do not deserve it. If you wish for rights, 
do right yourselves. If you desire privileges, show that they 
may be safely entrusted to you. Such a course, with patience, 
will make you happy and prosperous. I hope that a sense of 
justice, benevolence and enlightened self-interest, will lead the 
white people to set you a good example of faithfulness and honor 
in observing contracts." 

This "circular," issued by Col. Thomas, was "cordially ap- 
proved" by Gen. Wood. 

The .'following reflex of the industrial outlook at the begin- 
ning of 1S(J6, is quoted from the annual circular of Maurice Wil- 
liams of Liverpool, a then authority on cotton production: 

As regards the production of cotton in America in 1SGG, 
great diversity of opinion still exists. Those most capable of 
knowing best, the Southern planters, say they express a most 


100 Mississippi Historical Society. 

decided and universal opinion that, under no circumstances, can 
a crop exceeding- 1,000,000 bales be raised in 1866. We know 
that this year the crop raised has only been 400,000 bales, and 
that not only has the number of the black population been seri- 
ously diminished since the war commenced, but that the experi- 
ence of those who have recently been through the Cotton States 
is that a great disinclination exists among" the f reedmen to work 
for their late owners, and a still greater objection to work at cot- 
ton raising at all. We cannot expect, I think, a crop in America 
in 1866 to supply their own and afterwards the consumption of 
the world for 1867, or for more than 1,000,000 bales; for it must 
be remembered that the greatest portion of this year's crop of 
400,000 or 500,000 bales was made in Texas, where they were 
the last to surrender to the Union authorities, and consequently 
retained longer control over the labor of their slaves, and even 
during the picking season had more influence over them, owing 
to their more isolated position. It is well known that the amount 
of any year's crop in America depends principally upon the char- 
acter of the picking season, and the amount of labor which can 
be forced during that period. — Now, as the power to force this 
labor is forever taken away, and that it was mainly owing to this 
power that the Southern States were enabled to raise such enor- 
mous crops of cotton as previously to supply four-fifths of the 
consumption of the world, it may naturally be expected that free 
laborers toiling mainly for themselves cannot for years, until their 
number be materially increased, be expected to produce any large 
quantity compared with former crops — their number available for 
labor, owing to deaths from disease, war, and destitution, being 
now estimated at one-half the amount before the war ; and even 
then, subject as they were to forced labor, they could only produce 
4,500,000 bales in a year. From the reasons stated, therefore, 
it is not under-estimating the crop to be raised next year by 
placing it at 1,000,000 bales or under. In such a case, with a 
consumption in America, North and South, of fully 750,000^ bales. 
how much would they be able to spare for the consumption of 
Europe ? 

I cannot conceive how the present consumption of Great Brit- 
ain. is to be carried on, even at the reduced average all the year, 
and consequently it must be checked by an advance in price. 

It is interesting to note that the large proportion of the negro 
soldiers when discharged from the service promptly returned to 
their old plantation homes and vocations. The demand for la- 
bor led to deals between planters and the commanders of these 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 101 

troops, by which some leased plantations, others entered into 
partnerships or contracted as managers of their former soldiers. 
Gen. Osbond, odious through the depredations of his negro com- 
mand, and who was notorious on account of his summary dis- 
persal of the legislature, which assembled at the close of the war, 
leased the Kershaw plantation in Washington county. Gen. An- 
drew, brother of the famous Massachusetts war Governor, leased 
the Hampton places in the same county. They tried to carry 
military rules into the management of plantation affairs. Their 
laborers resented and rebelled against the control and discipline 
of the camp. They had learned the lesson of emancipation so 
well that it was held to be inconsistent with their new state of 
freedom to yield any recognition to authority and orders. After 
a short struggle with trying and turbulent environment, Osbond 
passed away in a drunken debauch. While Andrew got away 
with his life he suffered humiliation and severe financial losses. 
Undertaking to administer corporal punishment to one of his 
former soldiers, he was set upon with violence^ and so roughly 
handled that but for the interference of Gen. Wade Hampton, 
who happened to be on a hunting visit to his plantation, he would 
have been mobbed. As it was he had enough. He abandoned 
his lease and scraping the mud of Mississippi from his feet, took 
the first northbound boat, vowing hatred of the whole negro 
race. His brother, Governor Andrew, alleged a loss of $30,000 
in this planting venture. Some of the Union soldiers remained 
in the country and became good and honored citizens. But the 
majority went home ruined in pocket, or engaged in reconstruc- 
tion politics. It so resulted that one of the most unfortunate in- 
cidents of peace was the inflow of Northern men and capital in- 
to the cotton plantation regions, to be engulfed in utter loss and 
ruin. While there was little social intimacy, there was no fric- 
tion between the natives and the new comers. Even Osbond 
bore testimony to the "fine feeling" in the South which Gen. 
Grant reported at this period. In an interview published in the 
Montgomery Ne%w he said that "the only threats made against 
him were by his own hired colored men." But the country got 
a bad name from investors who failed and left. While a :ar^e 

102 Mississippi Historical Society. 

proportion of those who remained, sought to recover their losses 
as carpet bag officials when the provisional governments were 

The primary school feature in the Freedmen's bureau dispen- 
sation was at odds with the common belief of the times' that gen- 
eral or indiscriminate education of the negro was worse than 
thrown away ; that it could only unfit him for his sole vocation of 
farm labor. The teachers appointed by the bureau, Northern 
men and women, as a rule fanatics and zealots on the negro 
question, taught race equality as a cardinal principle. It was 
little surprising that they were regarded with extreme disfavor 
and distrust, and socially placed outside of the pale. In the ru- 
ral (districts their presence was so intolerable that the bureau 
schools were as a rule restricted to the towns. Occasional as- 
signments to the plantations were not fortunate though some- 
times simply ludicrous. One case of that character is referred 
to. A large planter in a remote section had a typical "Yankee 
school marm" billeted on him. Remonstrance -and explanation 
that her incorporation in his household was unwelcome, and, as 
he lived alone, unconventional and improper, failed to impress 
the spinster lady, bent on teaching her flock of picaninnies. In 
sore trouble the planter betook himself to the bureau commis- 
sioner, who had sent her to him. After a pecuniary transaction 
he returned home with a letter of recall, and under a pledge to 
open a school and find a teacher acceptable to himself. A cabin 
was furnished as a school house, and a negro woman who had 
a slight acquaintance with the alphabet was installed as teacher. 
In the spirit of making the best of the case in some instances 
planters came to provide school houses and engage native whites 
to teach the negro children. 

The following notice was published in the Vicksburg Herald, 
April 12th, 18GG, by request of the superintendent of education, 
Joseph Warren, under the Freedmen's Bureau: 

"I have received many applications for teachers of colored 
people on plantations. I * * * offer my services as agent 
to all who wish to procure teachers, to managers of plantations 
and to the colored people in towns. I am paid by the govern- 
ment to aid this cause and I wish no compensation from those 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 103 

whom I may serve. Teachers may be engaged as individuals or 
through freedmen's aid societies. Disabled soldiers and any 
other class of persons duly qualified, Northern or Southern, may 
often be heard of through me. Teachers from Northern socie- 
ties, coming as missionaries are the cheapest. They do not seek 
to make money. As an average these are the best that is avail- 
able. I have personal acquaintance with about fifty now in the 
state and do not believe there is one fanatical agitator. The 
tales told that they are unchaste, miscegenationists, promoters 
of social equality and discord between employers and laborers 
are unfounded, wilful slanders. * * * I have expressed to 
Northern people my belief that teachers will be safe in the state 
during the ensuing year. It is becoming manifest that the col- 
ored people will prefer those places where they may enjoy edu- 
cational benefits, and therefore it will be the interest and pleas- 
ure of those who employ them to give protection, facilities and 
help .to these teachers." 

There was decided repugnance to the Northern teachers of ne- 
groes. In spite of the superintendent's assurance it was felt 
that all of these "missionaries" taught, or favored, social equal- 
ity and were therefore natural disturbers between employers and 
laborers. To avoid their employment Southern papers and pub- 
licists urged that the native white prejudice to teaching the ne- 
groes be overcome. The following is from an editorial in the 
Jackson Standard: "We are glad to see an awakening disposi- 
tion on the part of the Southern people to take charge of schools 
for little negroes, and have them taught by Southern teachers 
instead of Yankees. It is patent to all thinking men that the 
policy of the South in the new relation with the negro, is to have 
him 'educated to the extent of his capacity and condition. And 
this should be done by Southern people, who will abstain from 
instilling into the minds of the negroes hatred and distrust of the 
Southerners. We should be better friends of the negro than to 
quietly turn him over to the grasping cupidity of the New Eng- 
enders." r 

The Brandon Republican called attention to Mr. Jayne's ad- 
vertisement in the following sensible remarks, the latter para- 
graph of which goes to show the great necessity which exists of 
placing the negro under Southern instead of Northern influences. 

104 Mississippi Historical Society. 

"We are aware of the fact that there are persons in our midst 
who would denounce any person of Southern birth who would 
engage in teaching negroes, but the better and more thoughtful 
portion of the community would applaud and sustain him, be- 
cause they know that the negroes will be taught by some one, 
and they would much prefer a Southern man, who would instill 
correct principles into them, to a canting, hypocritical Yankee, 
whose principal object is to get their money and teach them to 
hate their best friends." 

Negro School at Canton. — The Mail says : 

"Some complaints are made about the proximity of this insti- 
tution to the residences of some of the citizens of Canton. We 
took occasion a week or two ago, to publish a little article in re- 
gard to this thing. Since that time, we have heard hints, amount- 
ing almost to threats, directed towards the teacher of said 
school. Here we see a disabled Confederate soldier, who was 
wounded on several occasions during the late war, and on whose 
body the honorable scars, gained in fighting the good fight for 
the independence of his country, will continue to remain until 
death shall claim his victim. He returns home unfitted by his 
wounds for heavy labor, and, as a matter of necessity, takes 
charge of a negro school. Who can blame him? He saw, as 
all sensible men must, that these negro schools mwt be estab- 
lished throughout our land, and knew too, that it would be much 
better for Southern men to train the minds of young Africa, 
than to have some redmouth Radical fill the position. He de- 
termined, therefore, that rather than allow a Yankee fanatic to 
instill his venemous Sumnerian doctrines into the brains of these 
descendants of Ham, that he himself, by taking charge of the 
school, would breast the tide of public opinion, and bear the con- 
tumely which he knew would be heaped on him by faultfinders. 

Mr. Davis, the teacher of the school, informs the Mail that 
he is endeavoring to have the locality of it changed to some re- 
tired place outside of the corporation, so that the citizens may 
no longer be annoyed by the depredations of the scholars. 

The following is from the Meridian Messenger: 

"We have heretofore expressed the opinion that it is the true 
interest of the Southern people to take care that the emancipated 
negroes be educated, and their moral natures cultivated to the 
extent of their susceptibilities. We should not leave that field 
of philanthropic good work to be occupied exclusively by North- 
ern teachers. We must divest ourselves of the false notion that 

Mississippi^ Provisional Government- — McNeily. 105 

it is disreputable for a white man to teach a negro school. We 
can think of nothing so well calculated to make the two races 
live side by side pleasantly and comfortably, as for Southern 
teachers to take hold of the negro schools at once. They should 
be encouraged rather than discountenanced for the obvious rea- 
son that a Southern teacher would instill into the young negroes 
Southern ideas of the relative social relations, rights and duties 
of the races. Entertaining these views it is with regret we hear 
that some Southern teachers who have attempted to do this have 
met with contempt, persecution, even violence. * * * Af- 
ter awhile those who are wrong upon this subject will see right, 
and then all will be right." 

The Freedmen. — The education of the freedmen is begin- 
ning to excite some attention in this section. Quite a large Sun- 
day school, designed for the mental as well as the moral culture 
of the negroes, has been established at College Hill, in this 
county, and we are informed that unusual interest is manifested 
by them in the matter. Some of the best citizens in the county 
are engaged in the enterprise, and we heartily wish them suc- 
cess. We hope our good citizens in other parts of the county 
may imitate the example of the citizens of College Hill. Ne- 
groes who did not yield to the temptation to abandon their homes 
during the late war merit something at our hands.— -Oxfo rd 

These well directed efforts to teach the negroes the truth of 
the change in their condition as freedmen and to promote a right 
adjustment of their relations toward the state and their former 
owners was not allowed to prevail. The radical leaders at Wash- 
ington were (busy with the hell broth of their scheme of recon- 
struction. They were not only unsympathetic, they were relent- 
lessly antagonistic to a peaceable and orderly settlement of the 
Southern problem. Evidence of the condonance and success of 
the President's policy was the last thing they wished. It would 
have interfered with their deep laid and paramount plan for 
"making the South the stronghold of the Republican party/' 
through use of the negro as a suffragan. To that end and any 
all means were held justifiable. It went hand in hand with the 
declaration "to make treason odious" by punishing and degrad- 
ing "traitors." 

Whatever doubts of the radical policy upon the Southern 
question remained after the speeches of the leaders in the first 

106 Mississippi Historical Society. 

days of congress, were settled immediately upon the opening of 
the session after the holidays. The entrance upon the violent 
and revolutionary career which was to dominate political history 
for years to come, was signalized in resolutions of the first day, 
one that the military should not be withdrawn from the seceding 
states until congress should have declared their presence no 
longer necessary; another calling for the speedy trial of Jeffer- 
son Davis and his execution when found guilty. By the Wash- 
ington correspondent of the Cincinnati Enquirer this would have 
passed but for the interjection of a point of order. 

The first meeting of the reconstruction committee was held 
January 9th, the day after congress reassembled. A sub-com- 
mittee was sent to wait on the President with the request that 
while the committee was incubating its recommendations of legis- 
lation, there be no further reconstruction action by him. And 
that there should be "mutual forbearance on the part of the ex- 
ecutive and congress." The President replied, reciprocating the 
desire for harmony and acceding to the request that he go no fur- 
ther in carrying out his policy for the present. But there was no 
wish for harmony or truce by the Republican congress, or inten- 
tion of deferring action upon the report of the reconstruction 

This was clearly indicated in a vote soon after the holidays, 
upon a resolution approving the President's message. Proposed 
by a Democrat, Mr. Voorhees of Indiana, a substitute was of- 
fered by Mr. Bingham, of Ohio, changing an endorsement to a 
declaration of confidence in the President. While Bingham was 
a radical, both resolution and substitute were swept into the 
waste basket by Mr. Stevens, on a motion to refer the question 
to the reconstruction committee. An unmistakable affront and 
declaration of war on the President, this was adopted by a solid 
Republican vote save two. Such a vote signalized the absolute 
dictatorship of Mr. Stevens, over the house, which was Repub- 
lican, by four to one. He thus cleared the decks for driving 
through two pending revolutionary bills ; which in turn led up to 
the negro suffrage policy the joint committee of fifteen was then 
incubating. One of these two bills, known as the "civil, or equal 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 107 

rights bill," was avowedly aimed at the destruction of the "black 
code" race discriminations. Its purpose was set forth in the 
second section of the bill, which with the first section is quoted : 

"Sec. 1. All persons born in the United States, and not sub- 
ject to any foreign power or tribunal authority, excluding Indi- 
ans, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States. 

"Sec. 2. There shall be no discrimination in civil rights or 
immunities among the inhabitants of any state or territory of the 
United States on account of race or color, or of a previous con- 
dition of slavery; but the inhabitants of every race and color 
without regard to any previous condition of slavery or involun- 
tary servitude, except as punishment for crime, whereof the 
party shall have been, duly convicted, shall have the same right to 
make and enforce contracts, to sue parties and give evidence, to 
inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold and convey real and personal 
property ; to a full and equal benefit of all the laws and proceed- 
ings for the security of persons and property. Any person who 
under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, 
shall subject, or cause to be subjected, any inhabitant of any 
State or Territory to the deprivation of any right secured or pro- 
tected by this act, or to different punishment, pains, or penalties 
on account of such person having at any time been held in a con- 
dition of slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punish- 
ment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, 
or by reason of his color or race, than is prescribed for the pun- 
ishment of white persons, shall be deemed guilty of a misde- 
meanor, and on conviction shall be punished by fine not exceed- 
ing $1,000, or imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both, in 
the discretion of the court. 

Section 10 declared it to be lawful for the President of the 
United States, or any person he may empower for that purpose, 
to employ such of the land or naval forces of the United States, 
or of the militia, as shall be necessary to prevent violation and 
enforce the due execution of this act." 

The other and even more odious and sweeping of the two bills 
was a proposed enlargement of the Freedman's Bureau powers, 
a synopsis of which is quoted: 

"Section 1. Original act to continue in force; President to es- 
tablish twelve or less districts, with an assistant commissioner 
for each, to be appointed, or, in his discretion, detailed from the 

108 Mississippi Historical Society. 

"Sec. 2. The commissioner to assign sub-districts, with one 
agent to each. Assistant commissioners may have six clerks; 
agents of sub-districts two; military jurisdiction to extend over 
all employes of the bureau. 

"Sec. 3. Secretary of war may direct such issues of provi- 
sions, clothing, provisions, fuel, etc., for refugees and freedmen, 
as he deems needful. 

"Sec. 4. President may reserve for freedmen and refugees 
3,000,000 acres of unoccupied land in Florida, Mississippi and 
Arkansas, which the commissioner of the bureau shall allot in 
40-acre parcels; rent thereof to be based on a valuation of the 
land, and occupants may purchase at assessed value. 

"Sec. 5. Titles to Sea Islands, etc., under Sherman's order, 
confirmed for three years. 

"Sec. 6. Commissioners shall purchase lands required for 
support of dependent freedmen and refugees, and build asylums 
and schools ; congress to provide appropriations for the same, 
and the lands not to be sold at less than cost. 

"Sec. 7. Where rights of labor, of contract, of inheritance, 
of property, the equal benefit of laws, security of person, etc., are 
denied to freedmen, the President shall extend military jurisdic- 
tion and jurisprudence for their protection; such jurisdiction to 
cease when the discrimination on account of which it is confer- 
red shall cease. 

"Sec. 8. Whoever subjects any freedman to slavery or invol- 
untary servitude, except as punishment for crime, or discrimi- 
nates between the two races in penalties, shall be punished by a 
fine of $1,000 and one year's imprisonment. Officers of the bu- 
reau to have jurisdiction of all such complaints, so long as and 
wherever such discrimination on account of color continues, and 
wherever state and United States courts are not in full and peace- 
ful operation." 

The passage of this bill, first by the senate and then in the 
house February Gth, created a feeling almost of consternation 
in the South. 

In his diary Secretary Welles wrote February 14, 1866: 
"Have read the bill for the Freedmen's Bureau, which is a ter- 
rific engine and reads more like a decree emanating from a des- 
potic power, than a legislative enactment by Republican repre- 
sentatives. I do not see how the President can sign it." Of 
the cabinet members, Mr. Welles records Seward, McCulloch, 
Dennison and himself as favoring a veto; which was disfavored 


Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 109 

by Stanton, Harlan and Speed. February 20th the veto was 
read in congress. The main objections of the Fresident are here 
epitomized : 

"The bill extends greatly enlarged powers over sections in 
which the ordinary judicial proceedings have been interrupted. 
It gives power to the bureau to set aside local laws which are- sup- 
posed to deprive freedmen of their rights, without specifying 
what rights are thus to be secured. 

"The jurisdiction given to so large a number of agents, as pro- 
posed by the bill, over contracts, is given to those over whom 
there is no legal supervision, and in the very nature of men will 
be frequently attended by acts of caprice, passion and injustice. 
The trials are to take place without the intervention of a jury, 
and without fixed rules of law. The punishment is not to be 
what the law prescribes, but what the court chooses to inflict. 

"The jurisdiction thus given is irreconcilable with the consti- 
tution, which declares that no person shall be held to answer for 
a capital or otherwise infamous crime, unless on presentment or 
indictment of a grand jury * * * and that in all criminal 
prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right of speedy and pub- 
lic trial by an impartial jury of the district or state where the 
crime shall have been committed. 

The fifth section of the bill proposes to take away land from 
its owners, without any legal proceeding being first had, contrary 
to the provision of the constitution which declares that no person 
shall be deprived of life, liberty and property without due process 
of law. 

"The congress of the United States has never heretofore 
thought itself bound to found schools for any class of our own peo- 
ple not even for the orphans of those who have fallen in defence 
of the Union, butnas left the care of their education to the much 
more competent control of the states, of communities, of private 
associations, and of individuals. It has never deemed it neces- 
sary to expend the public money for the rent or purchase of 
houses for the thousands, not to say millions of the white race 
who are honestly toiling from day to day for their subsistence. 

"A system for the support of indigent persons in the United 
States was never contemplated by the constitution, nor can any 
good reason be advanced why, as a permanent establishment, it 
should be founded for one class or color of our people, more than 
for another." 

Perhaps the gravest practical objection to the bill is to be read 
in the following: 

110 Mississippi Historical Society. 

"It will tend to keep the minds of the freedmen in a state of 
uncertain expectation and restlessness, while to those among 
whom he lives it will be a source of constant and vague appre- 
hension. Undoubtedly, the freedmen should be protected, but 
they should be protected by the civil authorities, especially by 
the exercise of all the constitutional power of the courts of the 
United States, and of the states. His condition is not so exposed 
as may at first be imagined. He is in a portion of the country 
where, his labor cannot well be spared." 

As the Freedmen's Bureau scheme, which this bill proposed to 
extend, worked, out all of the President's objections to it were 
proved. As a mere accessory of military occupation of the black 
belts, to establish camps and provide occupation for the negroes 
that swarmed across the line to find shelter and bask in idleness 
under the Union flag, the bureau was useful. Further than this 
it was an evil, as will be shown by any dispassionate study of the 
operations of the agency after peace was restored. In spite, 
or because of inflammatory attacks upon the veto, the bill failed 
in the senate by a vote of 30 to 18, or less than the requiste two- 
thirds majority. Either caused by the President's argument, or 
driven off by the violence of speech which contrasted so strong- 
ly with Mr. Johnson's calm and forcible reasoning, eight more 
votes were polled against the bill than were secured on its orig- 
inal passage. Much of the popular interest in the vote was due 
to the recognition of the occasion as a crucial one, that it for- 
mally signalized the breach between the President and his party. 
Interest generally was pivoted more on this significance than on 
the bill itself. The public favor of the nation was probably with 
the President on the bill, as reflected in the following press story 
of the vote in the senate: 

At five o'clock the senate proceeded to take a vote. As the 
clerk proceeded to call the ayes and nays the whole assembly 
was hushed in the deepest attention, scarcely a sound being heard 
save the smooth dignified voice of the clerk and the response of 
senators as their names were pronounced. 

The people in the galleries hung anxiously over their seats and 
turned their heads approvingly or the reverse, as the sentiment 
suggested toward each senator as he announced aye or no, and 
and at the conclusion of the call the assemblage heaved a uni- 
versal aggregate long breath of relief. The presiding officer 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. Ill 

thereupon announced thirty votes for the bill and nineteen 
against it, and proclaimed that the bill is not therefore passed. 

Thereupon went up a tremendous round of applause from all 
parts of the galleries and the presiding officer directed the ser- 
geant-at-arms to clear the galleries instantly. The order was 
promptly obeyed and not only the male portion but also the 
ladies who have generally participated in the clapping of hands, 
were much to their surprise, hustled out. Everybody, however, 
was willing to go now, as the great event — the President's veto 

The veto of the f reedman' bureau bill turned the radical leaders 
on the President like a pack of wolves. It was the bursting 
of the storm which had been muttering and sending forth lurid 
flashes since the formation of the provisional governments. It 
brought on a series of most violent and denunciatory speeches in 
congress. Senator Sumner threatened "all the horrors of the 
San Domingo race war unless perfect political and social equal- 
ity was assured to the negro." 

Believing that this was running too fast Senator Fessenden of 
Maine said: "I take it that the honorable senator from Massa- 
chusetts himself would hardly contend that now, at this time, the 
whole population of the recent slave states is fit to exercise the 
right of suffrage." I mean that no man who looks at the ques- 
tion dispassionately and calmly could contend thai the great mass 
of those recently slaves are fitted at this stage to exercise the 
right of suffrage. Senator Henderson of Missouri replied that 
"the only way to protect the freedmen was to give them the bal- 
lot." "That is so," responded Mr. Sumner. 

Mr. Trumbull of Illinois "did not think the right of suffrage 
would feed the hungry or clothe the naked colored people of the 
South. Since the days of Townsend's Sarsaparilla, he had not 
'heard of s-uch an universal remedy for human zcoes as Mr. 
Henderson proposed to make out of the right of suffrage/' 

The Toledo (Ohio) Blade, a Republican paper, says Tudge 
Trumbull is right, and adds : "The friends of the colored people 
of the South issue an appeal for clothing for the suffering blacks. 
"Give them the ballot," cried Mr. Sumner. The Bureau asks for 
food and Mr. Stevens answers, "Give them suffrage." Suffrage, 

112 Mississippi Historical Society. 

according to Saints Sumner and Stevens, will supply the place of 
coats, pants, and vests, 'beef, potatoes, and bread; it answers in 
the place of calomel and quinine ; it will build shanties for them 
and fatten their pigs. With all deference to Mr. Sumner, we 
believe the negro, if the choice is given him, will take the food 
and clothing, the virtues of which he can appreciate, in place of 
the 'ballot, which he cares nothing about." 

In this, the initial joinder of battle with the radical policy, the 
President won his first and last victory. Thereafter, to the 
crack of the whip of party despotism, the two-third vote was 
secured. The line was drawn against the President as a party 
traitor, and excommunication waited on the Republican who 
dared to cross it. The Chicago Tribune thus pronounced Mr. 
Johnson an outlaw of his party: "Since the closing scenes of 
the war and the sad horror of the assassination, no event has cre- 
ated such profound sensation as the formal act by which the 
President has severed himself from the loyal party and united 
with its enemies North and South, before the Union is yet re- 
stored or the war fully ended. * * * Yel: while saddened 
by this long expected manifestation, there need be, should be, and 
we think will be, no trembling or hesitation on the part of con- 
gress, as there surely will be none on the part of the people." 

President Johnson's veto of this, the first one of the recon- 
struction measures to pass, has been criticised as a wanton rejec- 
tion of an opportunity for reconcilement with his party majority. 
Rhodes, on page 572, History of the United States, says: "A 
careful consideration of Johnson's utterances and action may 
well cause surprise that he did not sign the bill enlarging the 
powers of the Freedman's Bureau. Every one in the Union 
party, General Grant and the President included, believed in the 
absolute necessity for some such institution." On the contrary, 
"a careful consideration" of the question will readily reconcile 
the President's "belief in some such institution," with his veto of 
this enlargement bill. The law as it stood gave the bureau offi- 
cials the power of well nigh unendurable oppression. How this 
was extended by the terms of the amendment is not only shown 
in a comparison of the two. It was brought out in practice. In 

Mississippi's Provisional Government— McNeily. 113 

Mississippi, probably in other Southern states, there was such 
certainty that the bill would become a law that the bureau offi- 
cials did not wait for the President's signature. On its passage 
in the house Feb. 6th, 18G6, Colonel Thomas, state commissioner, 
issued a circular order to the district commissioners for assum- 
ing all the powers conferred under the provisions of the bill. 
What this meant, and the justification of the President's veto, ap- 
pears in the interpretation of these "powers" by those who were 
called on to apply them. This will be read in the following let- 
ter of instruction from the district commissioner at Natchez, to 
the county sub-commissioner, which was published 'by the officer 
in charge at Woodville in the Wilkinson Journal: 

Captain — In a late interview with Col. Thomas he instructed 
me to 'say to sub-commissioners that he wished them to assume 
full power and authority in their several districts. A great deal 
can be done by a bold and decided stand; giving the people to 
understand that you are backed by full authority. The passage 
of the bill enlarging the authority of the bureau makes it an es- 
tablished institution. Under its provisions you have, full power 
and authority to act in all cases involving the rights of f reed- 
men. When the civil authorities will take hold and act impar- 
tially you of course can let them do so. But whenever you think 
they are oppressing the freedmen it is your duty to take hold and 
act. If any resistance is made to your orders you will at once 
send a statement of the case and I will send troops to your aid. 
Let the people understand this fully. You will inspect all con- 
tracts — none being legal unless approved and recorded before a 
civil officer and stamped on each sheet with a 5 cent revenue 
stamp — and whenever you find any that, in your opinion, are 
oppressive to the freedmen, notify the planter to change it. 
(Signed.) Geo. D. Reynolds, 

Com. Southern District of Mississippi 

Most regrettably the President did not rest his cause upon a 
message which was unassailable as a model of suaviter in modo, 
and fortiter in re. Much of the public favor he gained was lost by 
a speech to a crowd, which after holding a mass meeting of ap- 
proval of the veto, adjourned to the White House to personally 
congratulate its inmate. Captivated by the incense of its enthu- 
siasm, Mr. Johnson delivered a speech in which he descended to 

114 Mississippi Historical Society. 

the vituperation of enemies whom he called by name. It was so 
intemperate and undignified that his friends were grieved, while 
his enemies used it most effectively against him. It was one of 
the peculiar hardships of the Southern people growing out of the 
fateful substitution of Johnson for Lincoln, that the very efforts 
in their behalf by the former were thwarted, converted into wea- 
pons against them by Johnson's lack of that intuitive insight, the 
tactful and well poised exercise of authority, that never failed in 
the martyr President. 

While winning the applause of the Southern people by his un- 
yielding opposition to radical measures President Johnson unfor- 
tunately raised hopes that were destined to be blasted. For this 
he is not to be fairly censured. He did what seemed best and at 
that clouded period it was an open question if the Northern peo- 
ple would stand with the President or congress. Naturally meet- 
ings were held in Vicksburg, Natchez, and other points for in- 
dorsing the President's position; demonstrations which were 
eagerly seized upon by radical leaders and used effectively for 
our undoing. The following resolutions of the Vicksburg meet- 
ing are quoted : 

Resolved, That the thanks of the Southern people are due to 
the President of the United States, and to the loyal and patri- 
otic statesmen in the Senate and House of Representatives who 
sustain him in his policy of Reconstruction ; and, 

Resolved, That in the message of President Johnson, vetoing 
the bill lately passed by Congress to enlarge the powers of the 
Bureau of Freedmen and Refugees, we recognize a return to the 
true principles of the Constitution of the United States,, and an 
assurance of an earnest desire on the part of his administration 
to restore, in all its parts, our once happy Union to its former 
grandeur and strength ; and, 

Resolved, That the preservation of the rights of the several 
states of the Union, as recognized and guaranteed t>y the Con- 
stitution, is essential to the preservation of the Union, and the 
perpetuity of republican liberty, — that the landmarks established 
by our forefathers, to mark the extent of the powers both of the 
general government and of the states, should not be changed or 
removed, but that every effort should be made to restore the 
Union as it was, and maintain, in all its integrity, the Constitu- 
tion as it is ; and, 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 115 

Resolved, That the people of Mississippi have, in all good 
faith and sincerity, accepted the results of the late civil contest, 
as a conclusive and final settlement of the issues involved there- 
in, and have returned to their allegiance to the Constitution and 
to the Union. 

In the final test a just and liberal policy was defeated. - It has 
been contended that the efforts in our behalf but intensified perse- 
cution of the South, and that it would have been better had he 
bowed to the storm he could not control. There is no evidence 
that this is so — no reason to believe that the subsequent course of 
treatment would have been affected by the supine submission of 
the President to action which was odious to his sense of right and 
duty. While no one can say with assurance — though some have 
so assumed — to what extent the future course of events would 
have been changed had he veered with the current, sought to stem 
what he could not stay, this truth is clear: That the President did 
what was right in principle; he was true to himself in a crisis of 
his life. And that the evils to which he pointed and against 
which he set his face were proved, and more, in the operation of 
the law which vainly sought to effect "a perfect equality of the 
white and black races." 

The most discouraging significance of this bill was the malign 
distrust of the Southern people it implied. Viewed through its 
logic, it disclosed and led up to the policy and scheme of recon- 
struction. Senator Sumner's incidental declaration for perfect 
race political and social equality was only a forward turn of the 
leaf of the chapter. 

.Alexander H. Stevens addressing the Georgia legislature, Feb- 
ruary 22nd, 18G6, said: "Would that I could say something 
cheerful. But that candor which has marked all that I have said 
compels me to say that to me the future is far from bright. Nay, 
it is dark and impenetrable. Thick gloom curtains and closes all 
around us. My only hope is in the peaceful re-establishment of 
good government and its peaceful maintenance afterward. 

* * * The restoration of the old union and with it the speedy 
return of fraternal feeling throughout its length and breadth. 

* * * I have faith in the American people. But for this I 
should long since have despaired. Dark and gloomy as the pres- 


116 Mississippi Historical Society. 

ent hour is, I do not yet despair of free institutions." He only 
hoped the people might rally against the then clearly defined pur- 
poses of the radical leaders in congress toward the Southern 
states, and sustain the President. The speech of this clear-sighted 
patriot is further quoted: "President Johnson is now, in my 
judgment, the present great standard bearer of the Constitutional 
Union, and in his efforts at restoration should receive the cordial 
support of every well wisher of his country." 

Thus the eyes of the more thoughtful had been opened by the 
ominous presages from congress of the radical temper and aims. 
They were not blinded by the defeat of the first step — the bare 
third of the senators and less than a third of the representatives 
were too weak a support of the President to afford hope of vic- 
tory in a long drawn out contest. There was too much at stake 
« — the opportunity for making radical hold on power impregnable 
was too strong to resist. As the New York Times said in a dis- 
cussion of that prime motive of the Southern policy : ''The radi- 
cals aim at a consolidation of the central power, and the complete 
overthrow of state authority. The steadiness with which this 
purpose has been pursued shows that it is not an accident of po- 
litical action, but a deliberate and distinct political programme. 
It has more than once been asserted in congress that as the South- 
ern states are now unrepresented, and as the Northern states thus - 
have the opportunity to make the government precisely what they 
would have it, they ought to embrace it, and to pass such laws and 
such amendments to the constitution as will give them permanent 
and complete control of the government. And the whole action 
of the radicals in congress has been steadily and powerfully in 
that direction." 

The civil rights bill .which had been introduced concurrently 
with the Freedmen's Bureau amendment, proposed to establish ne- 
gro equality in law in all things but the suffrage, and to annul all 
race discriminatory provisions in state laws. It was as broad and 
sweeping in its scope as it was stringent in providing for enforce- 
ment and punishment in the Federal courts and by the officers of 
the Freedmen's Bureau, of violations. To the argument that 
such ? law would take away the state power for prohibiting race 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. .117 

intermarriage, no heed was given in the senate. It passed that 
body by a. vote of 33 to 12. In the house the bill was so changed 
as to leave state laws on race intermarriage untouched. The 
house also added a clause which the senate had refused, that 
"nothing in the bill shall be so construed as to affect any state laws 
concerning the suffrage." That matter was then being looked af- 
ter by the select committee of fifteen. The bill passed the house 
and was vetoed by the President March 27th, in a long and con- 
fessedly strong message, which is quoted as follows : 

The fourth section of this bill provides that officers and agents 
of the Freedmen's Bureau shall be empowered to make arrests, 
and that officers may be specially commissioned for that purpose 
by the President of the United States. It also authorizes Cir- 
cuit Courts of the United States and Superior Courts' of the ter- 
ritories to appoint, without limitation, commissioners who are to 
be charged with the performance of quasi judicial duties. 

The fifth section empowers the commissioners so to be selected 
by the court, to appoint, in writing, one or more suitable persons 
from time to time to execute processes, etc. 

The numerous officials and agents are made to constitute a 
sort of police, in addition to the military, and are authorized to 
summon a .posse comitatus, and even to call to his aid such por- 
tion of the land and naval forces of the United States, or of the 
militia, as may be necessary to the performance of the duty with 
which they are charged. This extraordinary power is to be con- 
ferred upon agents irresponsible to the government and to the 
people to whose number the discretion of the commissioners is 
the only limit, in whose hands such authority might be made a ter- 
rible engine of wrong, oppression and fraud. — The General Gov- 
ernment, regulating land and naval forces of the United States 
for the United States for the execution of the laws, are believed 
to be adequate to any emergency which occurs in time of peace. 
If it should prove otherwise, Congress can at any time amend 
those laws in such a manner as, while subserving the public wel- 
fare, will not jeopardize the rights, interests and liberties of the 
people. The seventh section provides that a fee of ten dollars 
shall be paid to each commissioner, in every case brought before 
him, and a fee of five dollars to his deputy or deputies, for each 
person he or they may arrest and take before any such commis- 
sioner, with any such other fees as may be deemed reasonable 
by such commissioners, in general, for performing such other 
duties as may be required in the premises. All these fees are to 

118 Mississippi Historical Society. 

be paid out of the Treasury of the United States, whether there 
is a conviction or not ; but, in case of conviction, they are to be 
receivable from the defendant. It seems to me that under the 
influence of 'such temptations, bad men might convert any law, 
however beneficent, into an instrument of persecution and fraud. 

By the eighth section of the bill, the United 'States Courts 
which set only in one place for white citizens, must migrate with 
the Marshal and District Attorney, and necessarily with the 
Clerk — although he is not mentioned — to any part of the Dis- 
trict, upon the order of the President, and there hold Courts for 
the purpose of a more speedy arrest and trial of persons charged 
with a violation of the Act ; and there the Judge and officers of 
the Court must remain, upon the order of the President, for the 
time therein designated. 

The ninth section authorizes the President, or such person as 
he may empower for that purpose, to employ such part of the 
land, or naval forces, or of the militia, as shall be necessary to pre- 
vent the violation, and enforce the due execution of this Act. 
This language seems to imply a permanent military force, that 
is to be always at hand, and whose only business is to be the en- 
forcement of this measure over the vast region where it is in- 
tended to operate. To me the details of the bill -are fraught with 

After discussing the special evils to be apprehended from such 
a measure he said : "The provisions of the bill are an absorption 
and assumption of power by the general government, which, be- 
ing acquiesced in must eventually destroy our federalistic system 
of limited power and break down the barriers which preserve the 
rights of the states." But the time was passed when congress 
was amenable to reason or remonstrance from the President. The 
bill was passed over his veto in the senate by a vote of 33 to 15 ; 
and in the house by 122 to 41. There were a good many Repub- 
licans who took this step, or rather stride, in the policy of scourg- 
ing the South, with distrust and misgivings, others who had not 
already broken with the President were infuriated because he had 
not surrendered to their earnest and personal solicitations to yield 
to the expediencies which forbade a final break with his party. 
They had all the less patience with the message that it was unde- 
niably strong in reasoning while conservative and moderate in 
tone. Henceforth radicalism was in the saddle in dead earnest. 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 119 

The radicals were infuriated by their narrow escape from defeat. 
But for the illness of one senator, Dixon, of Connecticut, and 
the unseating of another, Mr. Stockton, of New Jersey, upon a 
flimsy pretext, the bill would have failed by one vote. For vot- 
ing against it, Senator Lane, of Kansas, was so hounded that his 
mind toppled over, and he died by his own hand a few months af- 
ter. The vote was forced over the request that, to permit Sena- 
tors Dixon and Wright of New Jersey, whose illness forbade them 
attending a night session, the vote be deferred until the next day. 
To this request Senator Ben Wade replied. Denouncing the 
veto of "such a measure as this as the act of a despot," he said : 
"I feel myself justified in taking any advantage which the Al- 
mighty has put in my hand. I will not yield to appeals of comity 
on a questioYi like this. But I will tell the President and anybody 
else that if God Almighty has stricken a member of this body so 
that he cannot be here to uphold the dictation of a despot, I thank 
him for it and I will take any advantage of it." It was Ben Wade 
who had expressed his gratification that Lincoln had been re- 
moved, to make way for 'Johnson, a man we can trust." 

On the passage of the Civil Rights law from which so much 
was expected, Blaine wrote : "The announcement was received 
with an outburst of applause in which the members of the house 
as well as the throngs of spectators joined. It recalled the scene 
of rejoicing over the passage of the 13th amendment a year be- 
fore." In establishing race equality in public places, and resorts 
of entertainment, travel and amusement, the Civil Rights bill 
proved a virtual dead letter in the South from its birth, and all 
through the reconstruction years. In the North it was, at times, 
and in spots, raised to the importance of a nuisance, requiring 
petty shifts at evasion and circumvention. The following com- 
ments upon the President's veto from leading Northern papers, 
illustrate the temper of the period, and the then alignment of 
opinions and parties upon the question that was to be paramount 
the next quarter of a century : 

From the N. Y. Times. 

But we venture to think that few State papers have ever been 
given to the world that will so thoroughly compel the attention 

120 Mississippi Historical Society. 

ym } 

of thinking men. The analysis of the details is of so keen and 
searching a character, the logic so irresistible, that we should 
hope even the strongest advocates of the measure will see how 
vastly important it is that the constitutional power of the veto 
should exist, and how important also, in a higher sense, that such 
a constitutional power 'should be entrusted to a President en- 
dowed with judgment, discretion and a most uncommon cour- 

From the N. Y. World. 
The veto is a conclusive demonstration of what was apparent be- 
fore, that the conflict between the President and Congress admits 
of neither compromise nor reconciliation, and that the contro- 
versy can only be decided by an appeal to either's common su- 
perior, the sovereign people. 

From the Chicago Tribune. 
The veto of the Civil Rights bill has been expected from the 
day that President Johnson, in the company of Saulsbury, Cox, 
Voorhees, and Wirz lawyers, gave in his adhesion to the prin- 
ciples of the Southern Confederacy. It takes no one by sur- 
prise, and none will be disappointed by it. It constitutes ' an- 
other step backward toward the old slaveholding era; or rather, 
it marks a step which had already been taken. 

From the N. Y. Herald. 
His objections on constitutional grounds exhibit this civil 
rights bill as involving the most flagrant devices for overriding 
the reserved rights of the States in their legislatures and judi- 
cial tribunals ever attempted in Congress. We had supposed 
this bill_ in a new shape a sort of reproduction of the old fugitive 
slave law, but under the searching analysis of Andrew Johnson, 
it appears a hundred times worse than the Freedmen's Bureau 
experiment, and nothing less than a bill of unconstitutional abom- 
inations from beginning to end. The objections submitted 
against the first section of the bill, however, are those which 
mark the impassable barrier between him and the ruling radicals 
of Congress. The veto is, in fact, an emphatic declaration of 
war against the radicals and their reconstruction system, root and 
branch. Henceforward there can be no party indorsements of 
the policy of Congress occupied with professions of adhesion to 
the policy of the administration. 

From the N. Y. Tribune. 
Let us thank Mr. Johnson that his veto is sweeping. He 
might have phrased it more cunningly, but he has chosen to let 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 121 

us know that it is not this particular bill that has provoked his 
opposition, but that any measures whereby Congress shall at- 
tempt to protect the Southern blacks against white abuse and op- 
pression must encounter his determined and deadly opposition. 

It is historically important to note that the constitutional war- 
rant claimed for the Civil Rights and the Freedmen's Bureau bills 
were supplied by the second section of the 13th amendment, which 
declared that ''congress shall have power to enforce this article by 
appropriate legislation." Such legislation, it may be said, 
furnished an exact fulfillment of the argument upon which the 
Mississippi legislature, in defiance of the terms of the President 
prescribed as a prerequisite to readmission, rejected the amend- 
ment. They vindicated the following from the adverse report of 
the state federal relations committee, to which the amendment 
had been referred. "It may be claimed that under this section it 
would be appropriate for congress to legislate in respect to f reed- 
men in the state. This committee can hardly conceive of a more 
dangerous grant of power than one which by construction might 
admit federal legislation in respect to persons, denizens and in- 
habitants of the state." 

In intent and theory the Civil Rights bill was as the President 
maintained — all bad. In effect it amounted to little. In the first 
place the negroes were not disposed at this time to agitation — in 
Mississippi they were only concerned over their freedom to work 
or not to work as their condition and pleasure dictated. In the 
next place the powers of the military and the bureau — whose 
higher officials were inclined to repress strife and discontent, and 
promote industrial thrift and social quiet among the races — were 
already ample for absolute government. Mainly as an index of 
the radical policy and of the definite parting of the ways between 
the President and congress, historians have discussed the bill as 
of paramount importance. Rhodes who measures out approval 
and disapproval of the President in about equal proportions, 
says on page 583, volume 5, of his History of the United 
States : "The president regretfully vetoed the bill, sending to 
the senate a veto message, remarkable for its moderation and 
careful reason." In the same connection, page 587, he says: 

122 Mississippi Historical Society. 

"Johnson's fall from when he sent his message to congress, De- 
cember 5th, 1865, to the day when the senate passed the Civil 
Rights bill over his veto, was great, and may be accounted for by 
the defects of his character and especially of his lack of political 
sense * * *. His quarrel with congress prevented the read- 
mission into the Union on generous terms of the members of the 
late Confederacy." The "defects of character and want of po- 
litical sense" may be granted, but the two measures on which he 
"quarreled," the Freedmans Bureau and the Civil Rights bill, 
would serve well for a puzzle picture, labelled — "Find the gener- 
ous terms." On page 579, Rhodes says: - "The principal objec- 
tion to his policy was that the President did not extend his invita- 
tion to vote to colored as well as to white men, but this objection 
is unreasonable when all the Northern states but six, deny the 
negro suffrage, and since until this session the proposition to con- 
fer the suffrage on the colored men of the District of Columbia, 
where congress has absolute authority has not been seriously 
mooted." The admission that negro suffrage was at the base of 
the contention of congress is quite enough to justify and almost 
sanctify the President's vetoes. Without the admission it is im- 
possible to maintain, that approval of the bills would have halted 
their course as forerunners of the subsequent constitutional 
amendment and the reconstruction acts. These measures which 
consummated the original radical designs of negro political and 
as far as possible social equality, were then incubating. Meaning 
everything to the South, in the states which had conferred suffrage 
on the negro and where there were only a handful of them, it 
meant practically nothing. The first popular test of negro suf- 
frage was applied in the District of Columbia, which voted upon 
the question Feb. 21st, the day after the President vetoed the 
Freedman's Bureau bill. The result was thus reported in the Na- 
tional Intelligencer of the 22nd, which said : 

The election yesterday to ascertain the sense of the citizens of 
Washington upon the extension of the right of suffrage to the 
negroes passed off very quietly, there being neither- a disturb- 
ance at the polls nor an attempt at one. The vote was a fun one, 
and it was discovered at an early hour that many of our citizens 
whose sentiments have ever been in unison with those of the Re- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 123 

publican party were unwilling to have negro suffrage inflicted 
upon them, for they voted an open ticket ''Against Negro Suf- 
frage." Indeed, in all the precincts most of the tickets were 
voted open. It was so evident that the majority would be over- 
whelmingly against negro suffrage that but little eagerness was 
manifested to ascertain the exact result in figures. Despite the 
coldness of the night, a few persons assembled at the City Hall, 
however, hoping to hear the returns, but they were doomed to 
disappointment. Even the localities where the results of elec- 
tions are earliest known were barren of details, all being fully 
satisfied with the fact that the bona fide residents of Washington, 
and the solid men of the city, were opposed to the proposed 
change. Many men who have not voted for years, turned out 
yesterday to add their vute to swell the multitude of citizens who 
are opposed to the putting of the proposed indignity upon this 
people. In some of the precincts, the vote was larger than it has 
been for years. 

The vote was — for suffrage, 35; against it, G,G02. Majority 
against suffrage, G,56S. 

The proof this election conveyed of the utter and practically 
universal repugnance with which negro suffrage was looked on 
was of small consequence to the negro suffrage zealots of recon- 
struction. Little did they care for its forecast of race strife and 
sectional antipathy. Some were primarily actuated by South 
hate, others by party gain of Southern Republican votes; a few 
negrophobics by an honest motive of uplifting the negro. 

As stated above, there was no thought, at this time of the suf- 
frage among the Southern negroes. The recent state conven- 
tion's absolute, rejection of the President's tentative suggestion of 
its conference upon a limited number of them had been generally 
accepted by whites and blacks in the state, in spite of warnings of 
the radical intent, as the conclusion of the question. While there 
was no political sentiment among the negro masses, there had 
been meetings held by a few of them toward the close of 18G5. 
Headed by the famous mulatto agitator, Fred Douglass, a delega- 
tion of one representative of the negro race from each state had 
been sent to the capitol 'to petition congress for the ballot, and 
early in February, 1SGG, they called on the President and urged 
their purpose on him. 

124 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Frederick Douglass addressed the President, saying: 

"Mr. President — We are not here to enlighten you, sir, as to 
your duties of Chief Magistrate of this Republic, but to show 
our respect, and to present in brief the claims of our race to your 
favorable consideration. In the order of Divine Providence, you 
are placed in a position where you have power to save or de- 
stroy us; to bless or blast us — I mean our whole race. Your 
/ noble and humane predecessor placed in our hands the sword to 
| assist in saving the nation, and we do hope that you, his able suc- 
cessor, will favorably regard placing in our hands the ballot, 
I with which to save ourselves. We shall submit no arguments 
on that point. The fact that we are the subjects of the Govern- 
ment, and subject to taxation, to volunteer in the service of our 
country, subject to being drafted, subject to bear, the burdens 
of the State, makes it not improper that we should ask to share 
in the privileges of condition. I have no speech to make on this 
occasion. I simply submit these observations as a limited ex- 
pression of the views and feeling of the delegation with which I 
have come." 

Responding, President Johnson said: 

While I say that I am a friend to the colored race, I do not 
want to adopt a policy that I believe will end in a contest between 
the two races, which, if persisted in, will result in the extermi- 
nation of the one or the other. God forbid that I should be en- 
gaged in such a work. * * * I am not willing to adopt a pol- 
icy which I believe will only result in the sacrifice of his life, 
and the shedding of his blood. I think I know what I say. 1 
feel what I say, and feel well assured, that if the policy urged 
by some be persisted in, it will result in great injury to the white 
as well as the colored man. 

When our government commenced upon this principle of the 
right of the people to govern themselves, and has existed upon 
it, now you propose to incorporate an element that did not exist 
before in it. I say that the query comes up, in undertaking this 
thing, whether we have a right to make a change in regard to 
the elective franchise, in Ohio, for instance, and whether we 
shall not let the people in that State decide the matter themse'ves. 
Each community is better prepared to determine the depository 
of political power than anybody else ; and it is for the legislature, 
or the people of Ohio, to say who shall vote or not for the Con- 
gress of the United States. 

Mr. Douglass.' — If the President will allow us, I would like to 
say one or two words in reply. My impression is that the very 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 125 

thing your Excellency would avoid in the Southern States, can 
only be avoided by the very measures that we propose, and I 
would state to my brother delegates, that because I perceive the 
President has taken strong grounds in favor of a given policy, 
and distrusting my own ability to remove any of those impres- 
sions he has expressed, I thought we had better end the interview 
with the expression of thanks. (Addressing the President) — 
But if your Excellency will be pleased to hear, I would like to 
say a word or two in regard to that one matter of the enfran- 
chisement of the blacks, as a means of preventing the very thing 
which your Excellency seems to apprehend — that is, a war of 

The President closed the interview — which is noted as the first 
formal move from the negroes themselves for political equality — 
with the observation that the negro must bear his own cross. If 
ill treated in the South he said their remedy was an exodus. The 
incident attracted little attention, as the public at this period did 
not take the question of negroes as voters seriously. It had just 
been tested in a number of Northern states at the polls, and voted 
down by overwhelming majorities. Few dreamed that congress 
would single out the South for the ordeal. Nor did the white 
people look on "the war of races" as more than a possibility. The 
passing of any danger of such trouble, incidental to the disturb- 
ing infusion of the negro garrisons, soon to be disbanded, is to 
be read in the following: 

Ad'j & Inspector Gene/s Office, 

Jackson, Miss., Jan. 10, 1866. 
General Orders No. 4. 

All danger of apprehended trouble between the freedmen and 
the citizens of this State having passed, and numerous complaints 
having been made of unjust treatment to freedmen, by persons, 
assuming to act as members of volunteer organizations, all spe- 
cial orders heretofore issued from this office to officers of volun- 
teer companies to disarm the negroes, are hereby revoked. All 
members of volunteer companies are hereby instructed to arrest 
all persons who, pretending to belong to this organization, dis- 
turb the public peace by their unjust and indiscreet action. The 
revocation of these orders is not intended to affect the operation 
of the law on this subject, or to set aside the duty of members 
of volunteer companies as citizens. The orders were issued to 
meet a supposed (danger that threatened us. It has passed, and 


126 Mississippi Historical Society. 

it is no longer considered necessary to act under special instruc- 
tions from this office. 

By command of the Governor : 

Jas. M. Kennard, 

Adjutant General. 

February 23rd, 1S66, General T. J. Wood issued special order 
No. 45, the following extract from which was published in the 
Vicksburg Herald of current date : "The following named regi- 
ments in this department will at once prepare their rolls for being 
mustered out of service, and report to the chief mustering officer 
of tfie department for muster-out. The 49th, 59th, 53rd, 64th, 
■66th, 7.0th and 108th regulars U. S. colored infantry." This or- 
der was welcomed by the white people as the removal of a sore 
cause of irritation and humiliation. The evils of negro troops as 
Southern garrisons had been impressed upon the President by 
General Grant, in his report already quoted. He condemned the 
black troops as demoralizing to the negro labor and as endanger- 
ing collisions. But action upon his recommendations was defer- 
red by the question of what to do with such soldiers after dis- 
charging them. It was suggested that they be turned over to the 
Freedman's Bureau and be worked on the levees. Then politics 
and prejudices intervened to farther perplex purpose. By this 
time congress had met and the fire in the rear of the administra- 
tion was incessant. A contribution to the fuel was furnished in 
a letter to the New York Times by Colonel Thomas, Freedman's 
Bureau chief. He protested against the removal of the negro 
troops and predicted all kinds of calamities if it were done. Colo- 
nel Smith, the post commander at Natchez, in a statement pub- 
lished in the press of that city, said : "If the negro troops were 
removed the whites would so exasperate the negroes that they 
would rise up and exterminate them, and I would be glad of it." 
No such consequences attended the discharge of the negro regi- 
ments. The effect upon the negroes generally was wholly bene- 
ficial. The following is from the Wilkinson Journal of February 
23rd, when the negro garrisons had generally been drawn into 
Vicksburg for the muster out: "Since the removal of the troops 
from Woodville negroes are more quiet and peaceably disposed. 
When backed by their comrades in arms it was not unusual to 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 127 

see the town filled with drunken negroes. Planters throughout 
the county state that freedmen in their employ are working with 
unexpected zeal and industry. This is especially the condition 
where planters and freedmen are not brought in too intimate con- 
tact with the bureau. Were the bureau powers diminished in- 
stead of increased and things left to their natural course, all would 
work out well." 

The negro soldiers were readily, and as a rule, peacefully ab- 
sorbed in the labor forces of the plantations on being mustered 
out of the service. Noting the discharge of a certain regiment 
the Vicksburg Herald said : "The majority of the men have en- 
gaged their services as field hands at the same pay they received 
from the government as soldiers and have left or are rapidly leav- 
ing the city with their employers." 

Industrial adjustment was naturally slow. Contests over farm 
contracts were frequent and harassing, especially when intruded 
upon by Freedmen's Bureau officials who made a trade out of 
their authority. In certain counties robberies and violence con- 
tinued to outcrop. The following order was addressed to certain 
cases of this kind : 

Adjutant General's Office, 
Jackson, Miss., March 3d, 1866. 
To the Sheriff of Madison County, Miss.: 

Sir: I enclose you a copy of order issued to each captain of 
a volunteer company in your county. I also enclose you a list 
of the volunteer companies in your county. The Governor is 
anxious to root out the robbers whose depredations have become 
so extensive, and hopes that with the aid of the volunteer com- 
panies the country can be cleared of these persons, and the sta- 
tioning of more garrisons of Federal troops among the people 
thus prevented. Let your people understand that the only way 
to prevent the stationing of Federal troops among them is to 
"root out" these depredators. The Governor enjoins upon you 
all diligence in the execution of this duty, and begs you to re- 
port to him the names of all officers who may refuse to respond 
to your call for aid. . 

Respectfully, your ob't serv't, 

James M. Kennard, 

Adjutant General 

128 Mississippi Historical Society. 

The following was published in the Vicksburg Herald of March 

"We gave an account, a few weeks ago, of the capture of the 
steamer Lily, with a cargo of cotton, on the Tombigbee River by 
a band of guerrillas. Another steamer, the Belfast, was since 
captured on the same stream and, as is supposed, by the same 
parties. The Belfast was heavily laden with cotton, belong- 
ing to private individuals. This the guerillas took off at differ- 
ent points, and afterwards turned the boat over to the captain. 
A gunboat was sent up the river from Mobile with a detachment 
of United States troops, for the purpose of ferreting out the dep- 
redators and arresting them, as also to recover the stolen cotton. 
The detachment succeeded in recovering about 300 bales out of 
590 which were taken from the boat. 

The Clarion earnestly calls the attention of the people to a 
series of bold robberies and outrageous proceedings that have 
taken (place in portions of our State. It has seen two reports 
that have been sent to the executive office from tw r o counties of 
our State. In one of them these villains say that no Yankee 
shall cultivate cotton. They have taken from them their mules 
and other property, and threatened their lives. This was in War- 
ren county. In Madison county but a few days since, they went 
to the plantation of a Northern man and took from ihim twenty- 
five mules." 

Such disorders were survivals of the war, and the immediately 
ensuing unrest and disregard of lawful authority it entailed. 
They soon gave way to the vigorous repression of the local au- 
thorities and courts. The.instances noted were about the last. 

In the extreme and urgent need of revenue for defraying the 
expenses of the state government the legislature had imposed a 
special tax on railroad travel. In pursuance of this law the Gov- 
ernor addressed a communication to the presidents and directors 
of the various railroads in the state, in relation to tax on railroad 
travel imposed by an act passed at the last session of the legisla- 
ture, proposing to them to become the agents of the state in the 
collection of the tax, and offering a certain percentage for their 
services thus rendered. President Milton Brown refused to aid 
in any way in the execution of the law as far as the M. & O. R. R. 
was concerned, expressing the belief that the same is in violation 
of the constitution of the United States, and therefore inoperative 
and void. General Hardee, as president of the Selma & Meridian 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 129 

road, accepted the proposition, and offered to collect the tax. 
F. M. White, president Mississippi & Tennessee road, agreed to do 
the same thing. The N. O. & Jackson road was yet to be heard 
from ; likewise the Memphis & Charleston. Southern, and Missis- 
sippi Central roads. Upon the refusal of the company to collect the 
tax, collection devolved on the sheriffs of the counties traversed. 

In a lengthy proclamation April 2nd, reciting previous execu- 
tive proclamations dealing with the "insurrection" of the South- 
ern states, and the act of congress defining the national policy and 
intent of the war waged upon them, President Johnson an- 
nounced "the cessation of organized resistance to the Federal au- 
thority; and that the laws can be sustained and enforced by the 
civil authorities and the people of the states are well and loyally 
disposed and have conformed or will conform to the condition of 
affairs growing out of the amendment to the constitution prohib- 
iting slavery," etc. It was recited at the conclusion of the proc- 
lamation that "whereas standing armies, military occupation, mar- 
tial law, military tribunals, and the suspension of the writ of ha- 
beas corpus are in time of peace dangerous to public liberty," etc., 
"now therefore, I * * * do hereby proclaim and declare 
that the insurrection which heretofore existed in the states of 
Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Alabama, 
Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas, is at an 
end and is henceforth to be so regarded," etc. 

This proclamation was read and rejoiced over, as pointing to 
the immediate withdrawal of troops, the end of martial law, mili- 
tary tribunals and the revival of the writ of habeas corpus. 
It was indeed so construed by the radical Attorney General Speed, 
as shown by the following press account of a test case: 

Washington, April 17. — The Attorney today made his report 
to the President in the habeas corpus case, decided by Judge Un- 
derwood at Alexandria on the 11th Inst., and which was referred 
to Attorney General Speed for his opinion. Judge Underwood 
decided that the late peace proclamation did not pretend to re- 
voke the previous proclamation of President Lincoln suspending 
in certain cases, the writ of habeas corpus in the States lately in 
insurrection; and upon this view of the law. Judge Underwood 
refused to grant the prayer of the petitioner upon the fact. 

130 Mississippi Historical Society. 

The 'Attorney General comes to a different conclusion than that 
arrived at by Judge Underwood, and recommends that an order 
be made for the release of the prisoner. Upon this recommen- 
dation the President this afternoon directed that an order be is- 
sued for the discharge of the prisoners. 

Nevertheless, in a case that came before him from Mobile the 
President instructed the disregard of a habeas corpus writ, ex- 
plaining that his proclamation was only a statement of his pol- 
icy; an explanation that did not allay bitter disappointment and 
severe criticism. A true explanation of the virtual reaction and 
annulment of his proclamation may be inferred from the follow- 
ing formal and explicit definition : 

Headq'rs Dep't of Mississippi, 

Vicksburg, April 23, 1866. 
General Orders No. 16. 

The following communication from the War Department is 
officially published for the information of all: 

War Department, 
Major Gen. T. J. Wood, Washington, April 23, 1866. 

Com'dg Dep't of Miss. : 

Sir — The Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Refugees, Freed- 
men, &c., for the State of Georgia, having inquired whether the 
President's recent proclamation removes martial law, and stated 
that the department commander does not feel authorized to ar- 
rest parties who have committed outrages on freed people or 
Union refugees, the Secretary of War, with the approval of the 
President, directs me to inform you that the President's procla- 
mation does not remove martial law, or operate in any way up- 
on the' Freedmen's Bureau in the exercise of its legal jurisdic- 

It is not expedient, however, to resort to military tribunals in 
any case where justice can be attained through the medium of 
civil authority. 

I am, very respectfully, &c, 

E. D. Townsend, A. A. G. 

Subsequently the following order was presented: 

"General Orders No. 26. 

"Whereas some military commanders are embarrassed by 
doubts as to the operation of the proclamation of the President, 
dated the ? r l day of April, 1S66, upon trials by military court 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 131 

martials and military offences, to remove such doubts, it is or- 
dered by the President that — 

"Hereafter, whenever offences committed by civilians are to 
be tried where civil tribunals are in existence which can try them. 
their cases are not authorized to be, and will not be, brought be- 
fore military court martial or commissions, but will be committed 
to the proper civil authorities. This order is not applicable to 
camp-followers, as provided for under the 60th Article of War, 
or to contractors and others specified in section 16, act of July 17, 
1862, and offences cognizable by the Rules and Articles of War, 
and by the acts of Congress above cited, will continue to be tried 
and punished by military tribunals as prescribed by the Rules and 
Articles of War and acts of Congress, hereinafter cited, to-wit:" 

The first court sessions were attended by some curious war 
cases, in the application of the laws governing the new status 
and relationship of the freedmen. The first case in Wilkinson 
county in which negro testimony was admitted was deeply colored 
with the irony of fate. Two white men, ex-Union soldiers, were 
charged with larceny and convicted on the evidence of the negroes 
they had robbed. They expressed extreme opposition to being 
convicted on "nigger" testimony. But as niggers were their vic- 
tims, the law gave them the right to testify. The accused were 
given five years in the penitentiary.. 

Judge Yerger decided at the Coahoma Court, that a suit could 
be maintained to recover on a note given as compensation for the 
hire of a substitute in the Confederate army. Judge Clayton, 
of the Holly Springs district, decided just the other way. 

A chief argument against the "Black Code" was the discrimin- 
ative apprenticeship law, which was passed for dealing with and 
caring for the necessities of a multitude of orphaned and aban- 
doned negro children. While the statute admitted of abuses this 
was preventable by the Freedman's Bureau surveillance and the 
supervision of courts presided over by intelligent and upright 
judges. The good intent of the statute is shown in the follow- 
ing correspondence, and in ensuing court rulings : 

Executive Office, 
Jackson, Miss., March 6, 1866. 
Sir: — Complaints are constantly reaching this office of a want 
of uniformity in the administration of the apprentice laws of Mis- 
sissippi by the Probate Courts of the various counties. 

132 Mississippi Historical Society. 

With no desire to forestall the judiciary, but simply to obtain 
uniformity of practice, if possible, I respectfully request your 
opinion upon the following points : 

1st. Is a negro minor liable to be apprenticed by the Probate 
Court, giving preference to former owners, disregarding the 
wishes of its "parents or parent" ? 

2d. Is the mother of a fatherless child, under 21 years of age, 
entitled to its custody and service? 

In cases of uncertainty and doubt as to the age of the minor, 
is the minor entitled to the benefit of the doubt, and to be appren- 
ticed for the shortest term of servitude? 
Very respectfully, 

Your ob't serv't, 

Bent. G. Humphreys, 

Governor of Miss. 
To Col. C. E. Hooker, 

Att'y Gen'l Mississippi. 

v Attorney General's Office, 

Jackson, Miss., March 12, 1866. 

Sir: I am in receipt of your favor of 6th inst., asking con- 
struction of the act entitled "An act to regulate the relations of 
master and apprentice, as relates to freedmen, free negroes and 

You ask, "1st, Is a negro minor liable to be apprenticed by the 
Probate Court, giving preference to former owner, disregarding 
the wishes of its 'parent or parents.' " 

"2d, Is the mother. of a fatherless child, under 21 years of age, 
entitled to its custody and services?" 

I answer your first question in the negative, your second in 
the affirmative. 

The first and sixth sections of the act make it the duty of all 
civil officers, in their respective counties, to report to the Probate 
Court "all freedmen, free negroes and mulattoes under the age 
of eighteen, who are orphans, or whose parent or parents have 
not the means, or who refuse to provide for and support said 
minors." Whenever these reports are made, the jurisdiction of 
the Probate Judges, over the minor, attaches. Had the act used 
only the term "orphan," as this term has been adjudicated by the 
High Court of Errors and Appeals, to mean a "fatherless child," 
the act must have received such construction as the law gives to 
the term' in its legal sense. But the subsequent use of the terms 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 133 

"parent or parents," coupled with the conditions of "ability and 
willingness to support," shows that it was the design of the Leg- 
islature to use the term "orphan" in its popular sense as synony- 
mous with "minor," as is shown by the paragraph quoted from 
first section, where orphan is referred to by the words "said 
minor," the term "minor" not having been before used in the act. 
The use of the term "parent or parents" shows that it was the in- 
tent of the Legislature to give to either parent the right to con- 
trol the minor child when they have the "ability," coupled with 
the "willingness," to support the minor. 

The prime object of the Legislature was to give protection and 
direction to that large class of black minors who have been re- 
cently freed ; and secondly to prevent this class of persons from 
becoming a tax upon the public treasury. The right of the "for- 
mer owner" to apprentice rests upon the same ground as that of 
any other person ; that is, that the party ought to be apprenticed 
is a minor, without a parent who is able and willing to support 
the minor. When these facts are made to appear, the law gives 
the "preference" to the former owner, coupled with the proviso, 
that he must be a "suitable person" in the opinion of the Probate 
Judge, to take charge of the minor. 

Were there any doubt about the right of either parent to con- 
trol the minor, it would be settled by the 9th section of the act, 
which provides : "Be it further enacted, That it shall be lawful 
for any freedman, free negro or mulatto, having a minor child 
or children, to apprentice the said minor child or children as pro- 
vided for by this act." 

The use of the general terms employed in the title of this act, 
"freedman, free negro or mulatto," must be construed to em- 
brace either parent. 

You ask in the third interrogatory, "In case of uncertainty and 
doubt as to the age of the minor, is the minor entitled to the bene- 
fit of the doubt, and to be apprenticed for the shortest term of ser- 

In answer to this, I can only say that the 10th and last section 
of the act provides: "That when the age of the freedman, free 
negro or mulatto cannot be ascertained by record testimony, the 
judge of the county court shall fix the age." 

Full and complete power is given to the officer named in the 
act to fix the age. In the exercise of this power it is to be pre- 
sumed that the enlightened officers entrusted with the discharge 
of this duty will be governed by that spirit of justice to the 
minor which, it is apparent, governed the legislative minds in the 
passage of the act. If, upon inspection of the minors, the 

134 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Judge is in doubt as to the precise age, it might be easily solved 
by calling on three disinterested freeholders of the county to 
pass on the age of the minor. 

Respectfully, your ob't sv't, 

C. E. Hooker, 
Att'y Gen, of Miss. 

In a case before Judge J. A. P. Campbell, of Madison county, 
where the fatherless child of a freedman asked to be appren- 
ticed to its former owner and the mother petitioned for its pos- 
session, decision was rendered in her favor. A like case was de- 
cided similarly by Judge Cothran, of Carroll county. These 
judges were distinguished in their profession and eminent as jur- 
ists. A singular case came up before Judge Foote, of Noxubee. 
Two negro children were apprenticed by the local bureau agent 
and under assumed authority as such. Though both father and 
mother were living and unconsenting, their children, one fourteen 
and one twelve, were intrusted to a guardian chosen 'by the agent 
until their majority. This was a stretch of authority that went 
far beyond the state law. Judge Foote annulled the unnatural 
and despotic act; deciding that the act of congress establishing 
the Freedmen's Bureau conferred no power on commissioners to 
bind out or apprentice children of living parents competent to care 
for and support them. That its intention evidently was to pro- 
tect orphans and children of those who were unable to provide 
for them. In this case the state figured in the protection of the 
freedmen, against the oppression of the bureau. Though the 
abuse was that of a local commissioner, in a card in The Vicks- 
burg Herald Col. Thomas spoke of the decisions noted "as 
evidence that the civil courts are disposed to do justice to the 
freedmen that was highly gratifying." 

Vicksburg, Miss., March 15, 1866. 
Editor Herald: 

Sir: In your issue of this morning my attention is called to 
a decision of Hon. H. W. Foote, Judge of the Sixth Judicial Dis- 
trict, in regard to two minor children. Accept my thanks for 
the aid thus offered me. 

If any officer of the Bureau bound out the children in ques- 
tion when their parents were present and not consenting, he trans- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 135 

gressed the orders that have been given, clearly and uniformly, 
from my office. Not knowing- all the circumstances of this case, 
but well aware of the principles I have ordered to be observed, I 
think the Bureau officer must have bound out these children when 
they were separated from their parents and in need of protec- 
tion. You are aware that many such separations have occurred 
in the v confusion of the past few years. We have had many such 
children in orphan asylums ; and they are always given up when 
their parents are discovered. I hope the Probate Judges will do 
the same when parents of children that have been apprenticed 
make an application for their return. 

Had the parents of these two children applied to me, the same 
order would have been given. Had they applied to the District 
Bureau officer, I cannot doubt but that he would have sought to 
cancel the indentures. If such application was refused, then, I 
grant you, the officer was guilty of error and injustice. 

I have taken great pains to publish the decision of Judge Camp- 
bell in a similar case appealed from a Probate Judge, and it will 
give me great pleasure to publish the present decision as widely, 
if I can get it. As evidence that the civil courts are disposed to 
do justice to the freedmen, it is highly gratifying. I hope the 
papers of the State will publish both decisions and'eomment on 
them, that w r e may know that they receive the approval of the 
community everywhere. 

Sam'lj Thomas, 
Col. and. Ass' t Com'r. 

Much confusion grew out of the law recognizing the negro 
marriage relation as subsisting at the close of the war. A suit 
in which the right to control of a child was involved coming up 
for adjudication before him, Judge J. A. P. Campbell of the Can- 
ton district, said in dismissing the parent's application : 

''If this effect be given to the law, it will lead to most absurd 
results in frequent instances, and will fasten responsibilities on 
freedmen, both onerous and unjust. Mormonism and freelove- 
ism will have been sanctioned as to their part, and many a dusky 
gallant will, by virtue of the law, be claimed as sire, ancestor and 
supporter by a greater number than the sons and daughters of 
Ibzan, a Judge of Israel, wbo had thirty sons and thirty daugh- 

If "living and cohabitating together as man and wife" hereto- 
fore, when slaves, not continued to the date of the law, is to 
make marriage legral and valid, then will successive "taking up," 

136 Mississippi Historical Society. 

"cohabitations," however numerous, with husband and wife of 
former cohabitations still living, be legalized, then will the ''cohab- 
itations," "livings together," induced by the coercion of masters 
among their slaves be legalized. This would be unjust to the 
freedmen and freedwomen. They should not, when free, be 
held bound by their acts or manner of life when slaves, when 
they had no care for the future, no sense of responsibility, no 
choice, often but the indications of circumstances and the neces- 
sities of their condition. 

The following tells of another class of litigation growing out 
of the war : 

"The Circuit Court at Canton has been occupied with the cele- 
brated case of Parker vs. Adams. In the summer of 1864, Gen. 
Wirt Adams, then in command of that Department, had P. A. 
Parker, of Holmes county, arrested on a charge of embezzling cot- 
ton. Parker was brought to Canton and imprisoned for a con- 
siderable time. Finally, however, he was liberated. He now 
brings suit against Gen. Adams for false arrest and imprison- 
ment, damage to character, etc., laying his damages at $105,000 ! 
On the trial of the case, just ended, a jury of Mr. Parker's peers, 
after a full hearing, gave him damages to the amount of just one 

In the distressed condition that prevailed, the relief promised in 
the stay law appealed strongly to the debtor class which then em- 
braced the great majority. Vicious as a mere putting off of the 
evil day was in principle, delusive and disappointing as it would 
have been in practice, the annulment of an act that had raised so 
much vain hope by the courts, added no little to the discontent and 
despondency among the people. Relief was sought in an attempt 
in Choctaw county to suspend the operations of the Court, by in- 
ducing the Sheriff and Clerk to resign. The Judge very promptly 
appointed other officers in their places, and the business of the 
Court went on. 

With rare exceptions there was no disposition among cred- 
itors for forcing collections. As a rule they were more than 
willing to grant extensions and accept compromises on the most 
liberal terms. On this point the Hinds County Gazette is quoted : 

That many suits are being brought in the Hinds Circuit Court, 
as well as in other circuit courts, of the State, we do not deny. 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 137 

But, of one thing we are satisfied, and we assert the fact confi- 
dently, having been assured of its truth by those who have a 
right to know, that the debtors have only themselves to censure, 
in almost every case, that legal steps have been taken to coerce 
payment from them. We have yet to ihear of an instance in this 
county, where a debtor has gone forward to a creditor and of- 
fered to do something, or promised to do something at a reason- 
able period, who has been sued! The creditor class (if we have 
such a class now in our State) have been universal and constant 
in their complaints that those indebted to them manifest the most 
extreme indifference with reference to their indebtedness. So 
far from going forward to their creditors and making proposi- 
tions for payment at a stated time in the future, or proposing a 
transfer of paper, (for almost every man who owes debts, also 
has, (debts owing to him,) or submitting a compromise, debtors 
seem disposed to favor themselves. 

A broad field of litigation was sown in the outlawry of Con- 
federate currency. A decision by Judge A. M. Clayton, an able 
and honored jurist, in a suit that came before him at Aberdeen, 
was a test of many cases. It involved delivery of 20,000 lbs. of 
lint cotton, which had been bought and paid for, in Confeder- 
ate notes, in January, 1S64, and left with the seller for delivery 
upon demand.. Pleading "no consideration," consummation of 
the purchase was refused. The Vicksburg Herald briefed the 
Judge's decision as follows: 

"Judge Clayton then proceeds to consider the powers of the 
Confederate Government during its de facto existence, and shows 
very conclusively that, as a war measure, it possessed the power 
of issuing treasury notes, and that this power was entirely in- 
dependent of any question of its character de jure. He shows, 
also, that the Federal Government has recognized the validity of 
purchases made with these notes, by seizing cotton and other 
property of the Confederate States, the title to which was ac- 
quired by the Confederate Government through purchases made 
with these treasury notes. 

From these considerations the conclusion is drawn with irre- 
sistible force, that contracts, of which the consideration was the 
payment of Confederate money during the de facto existence of 
the Confederate Government, are valid and obligatory. 

The prayer of the bill was granted, and a decree entered for 
the delivery of the cotton to the complainants, or, in case the 

138 Mississippi Historical Society. 

cotton could not. be had, for the value of it — the defendant to 
pay the costs of the suit. , 

Another "contract" law is sustained: 

"Judge Smiley decided at the late term of the ninth circuit 
court, that a note given for the purchase money of a negro in 
January, 1864, was valid in law. He holds that negroes were 
not free in Mississippi, until the convention in 1865 amended the 
State constitution abolishing slavery in the State. That the proc- 
lamation of the President of September, 1862, and the acts of 
Congress, in approval thereof, were unconstitutional and of no 

The seizure of Confederate cotton by treasury officials con- 
tinued a fruitful source of contention. Left in the hands of the 
parties from whom it was purchased, the title of the Confeder- 
acy was probably some times falsely denied. On the other hand 
the agents were not all, or always, fair in dealing with parties 
who claimed ownership. One of the most zealous of these 
agents was a citizen of Columbus, Harrison Johnson. Being 
made defendant in a suit for seizing cotton as Confederate prop- 
erty, which belonged, as alleged, to the plaintiff, the treasury 
ag*ent took the extraordinary course of "appealing his case to 
Caesar.'' In adjourning the court term, Judge H. W. Foote 
entered upon the record a lengthy protest against military inter- 
ference which is quoted from as follows: 

Upon this plea so anomalously pleaded, consisting of bare al- 
legations, the counsel of the defendant, in open court, moved for 
an entire dismissal of the case, in the absence of any replication 
whatever on the part of the plaintiff. I need not repeat, that ex- 
cept in an- extraordinary case, which it seems almost impossible 
to imagine, such action would be deemed wholly irregular, and 
not be allowed. But in making this motion the counsel warned 
the Court of the danger of military coercion which environed its 
action, and in proof thereof read a telegram from the Military 
Headquarters at Vicksburg, as follows : 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 139 

"Headquarters Department of Mississippi, 

Vicksburg, Miss., May 7, 1806. 
Mr. Harrison Johnston, Ass't Special Agent U. S. Treasury, 
Columbus, Miss.: 
In the suits brought against you for collecting cotton, plead 
Gen. Grant's General Order No. 3 of 1SG6, in bar thereof. If the 
order is not respected, let me know and I will see that it is. 
By order of Major General Th. J. Wood. 

Marcus P. Bestow, 
Assistant Adjutant General." 

In disregard of the usual and necessary rules of legal plead- 
ing, and in the absence of time to reply to the novel and complex 
plea of the defendant on the part of the plaintiff, I consented to 
hear the plea, telegram, and argument of counsel, in behalf of 

I have thus far done all that, lies in my power, even in view of 
the novel and extraordinary circumstances which surround me, 
to enable the defendant to bring the special issue which he means, 
instantly before the Court, and thereby to avoid all reasonable 
ground of complaint on the part of the military authorities. In 
doing so I have desired to manifest a proper respect for the of- 
ficer by whose mandate it is alleged, as individuals, we are yet 
controlled in this military department. 

The next step is one fraught with more important consequences 
to myself, involving inevitably a criticism upon my character as 
a man, and my integrity as a Judge. Before placing upon rec- 
ord, therefore, that decision, whatever it may be, and the reasons 
therefor, I may fairly claim a sufficient time for that calmness of 
thought land deliberateness of investigation so imperatively de- 
manded by the delicacy of the duty I am forced to perform. 

Under the statute in such cases provided, I therefore take the 
issue presented upon the pleadings, under advisement until the 
next term of this court, when in the language of Lord Coke — 
under similar circumstances — "I hope, by the help of God, to do 
that which is right and proper for a Judge to do." 

General Wood was overruled as follows : 

Maj. Gen. T. J. Wood, 

Commander, &c, Vicksburg: 
The attention of this Department has been called to the case 
of Porterwood against Treasury Agent Harrison Johnson, pend- 
ing in the circuit court of Lowndes county, Miss., and to your 
telegram to Mr. Johnson, dated at Vicksburg, 23d April, direct- 

140 Mississippi Historical Society. 

ing him to plead Gen. Grant's General Order No. 3, in bar of said 
suit. As the act of Congress now affords jurisdiction of such 
cases to the federal courts, with ample means for judicial pro- 
tection, it is not deemed necessary for military authority to in- 
tervene in behalf of Mr. Johnson, or in any way interfere with 
the action of judicial tribunals having cognizance of his case. 
You will therefore abstain from interference in the case. 
(Signed) Edwin M. Stanton, 

Secretary of War. 

As the planting season progressed the tests of the "free ne- 
gro" as a dependable laborer were noted with much concern. 
The remarks of Col. Thomas, state Freedman's Bureau Com- 
missioner, upon the reports of his assistants for March, were 
highly encouraging. Commenting the Vicksburg Herald said : 

"We were impressed throughout with the candor and earnest- 
ness of the report, and felt gratified that so favorable a state- 
ment could be made for the well-being of the freedmen in the 
State, and the justice which is done them, not only by individ- 
uals, but by the civil authorities. We were assured that the re- 
ports of Col. Thomas have been always characterized by the same 
honesty of conviction which this exhibited, and a like disposition 
to do the people justice. In concluding his report. Colonel 
Thomas expresses regret that so many exaggerated and false 
statements are circulated through the North of outrages commit- 
ted upon Freedmen and Northern citizens." 

The results of the year agriculturally were looked for as a test 
of the dependability of the negro in freedom. The planting of 
the crop dispensed general encouragement. The following from 
the Woodville Republican of April 6th expressed this, though 
the outlook was soon overcast by that worst of all incidents of cot- 
ton growing, a wet season: 

4 Agricultural. — Our local exchanges from all parts of the 
State are replete with encouraging accounts of the weather, 
crops and operations of the freedmen. This announcement is a 
pleasing one, as foreshadowing the planting interest of the coun- 
try generally, and cannot fail in its beneficial effect upon our 
planters in this immediate section, whose prospects, for the pres- 
ent, were never more promising. Our farmers in this vicinity 
have gone to work with an energy which argues well for the fu- 
ture. The impression, so generally entertained among the plant- 
ing community, that free labor could never be made available in 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 141 

farm operations, has, if our exchanges be correct, been somewhat 
dissipated by the recent conduct of the freedmen; they have ac- 
cepted the "situation" in good faith, finding, by experience, that 
it will not justify them in a life of idleness. Freedom has not 
brought them shelter, food and raiment, unless accompanied by 
labor — this fact they have realized — being compulsory, it is 
powerful. Our planting prospects are truly hopeful. But with 
all this, much of the best cotton lands in the State will be uncul- 
tivated. In thousands of instances, the labor has left the planta- 
tions never to return, and the owners have abandoned all idea of 
attempting to make a crop. Capital and labor are our great 

There were, of course, disturbances exceptional to the gener- 
ally harmonious establishment of race relations and industrial af- 
fairs. But the just and firm course of the civil officials in main- 
taining peace and order, and in administration of the law cannot 
be questioned. The account of a fatal fray between Gen. Forrest 
on his Coahoma county plantation, and one of his laborers who 
was a wife beater, is quoted from the Memphis Avalanche: 

"On hearing him commence his abuse, the General stepped in- 
to the cabin and told him that he should not beat his wife any 
more ; that he had on several occasions beaten her most cruelly ; 
that these outrages must and should cease, and that he (the Gen- 
eral) would hereafter protect the wife. To this Thomas Ed- 
wards replied that 'he would be d — d if he wouldn't thrash his 
wife whenever he pleased ; that he didn't care a d ! — d for Gen. 
Forrest, and would do as he pleased," at the same time assuming 
a threatening attitude, and using insulting language. The Gen- 
eral remarked to him that he would not permit him or anybody 
else to insult him, and that if he persisted in using such language 
he would strike him. Edwards did continue to use insulting lan- 
guage, whereupon the General struck him over the head with a 
broom or its handle. Edwards immediately assaulted the Gen- 
eral with a knife wounding him slightly in the hand. Unfortu- 
nately for Edwards, there was an axe in the cabin, which the Gen- 
eral seized, and, as Edwards was rushing upon him, he received 
a blow upon his head which was instantly fatal." 

While Gen. Forrest was held to appear before the Coahoma 
court, the case was investigated by a Freedman's Bureau official. 
And it is his remarks, which are quoted, in dismissing the charge 
that gives the incident historic significance. "Capt. Collis, of the 

143 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Freedmen's Bureau, who conducted the investigation, censured 
Gen. Forrest for too liberal indulgence of the negroes, especially 
in the matter of purchasing and carrying fire arms, and officially 
instructed him not to tolerate the practice in future. That seems 
to have been all the fault that was found with him in the transac- 
tion. Capt. C. is an old army officer, native and citizen of Con- 

At this date schemes for robbing the credulous and childlike 
negroes were of almost daily occurrence. A "contribution" of 
$5.00 each was collected from the negro soldiers mustered out at 
Vicksburg for "building a Lincoln monument." A correspond- 
ent of the Cairo Democrat, writing from Natchez, wrote: 

A certain colonel of a negro regiment (who was, by the way, 
cashiered) and a lieutenant have opened a "claim agency of- 
fice," The duties of these two worthies are to callect all boun- 
ties which may be due the negroes. A few days since Maj. 

G , who has been stationed here for some time, informed us 

that there was no bounty due these negroes. The claim agents, 
he said, received from five to ten dollars from' each man, and 
promised to pay the bounty when received. Before the poor 
negro is through with these agents, we promise that the latter 
will have been most bountifully paid. 

From the Meridian Messenger: 

A gentleman recited to us on the cars, a day or two ago, a 
series of swindling operations upon the poor negroes, in a neigh- 
boring town in Alabama, by their peculiar friends. We select 
two cases. On Christmas day the negroes came into town from 
the plantations, to the number of two or three thousand. Some 
of the soldiers stationed there discovered that they generally had 
a little money, and began sharpening their wits to get it. They 
went about through the crowd of darkies and disseminated a 
story that General Sherman was to be there on the 1st of Janu- 
ary for the purpose of distributing among them the farms and 
property of the country, and it was necessary to have all their 
names put down on paper. A small fee was required for that 
purpose to defray certain little expenses. Those who paid a fee 
of $5 were to have first class farms; $2.50, second class, and $1, 
third and last class. The negroes bit at it like pikes at a shiner. 
It was estimated that in this way the sharp Yankees raised about 
a thousand out of the credulous negroes. 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 143 

April 1st there occurred the first of the much predicted race 
riots, in Memphis. The following is quoted from the Avalanche 
account : 

That terrible state of affairs, between the white and black 
races, which the teachings of the radical extremists of the negro 
have caused the fear of, almost since the cessation of hostilities, 
commenced in our city about 6 o'clock yesterday, in serious and 
fatal earnest. The war began on South street, in the extreme 
southern portion of the corporation. It originated from a diffi- 
culty between a white and negro boy, near the bridge over the 
bayou, on the street already mentioned. These juveniles had 
come to blows, and Officers O'Neil and Stephens, of the police, 
on discovering it, started for the bridge to separate the parties, 
when a crowd of fifteen or twenty grown negroes, armed with 
pistols, simultaneously started for the same point. * '■■'* * At 
this time — 6 o'clock — the riot was at its height, and Officers Slat- 
tery and Mallon, the only policemen who had arrived on the 
ground, had fallen severely wounded. In the meantime a mes- 
sage had been dispatched to the police office for reinforcements, 
and fortunately Mr. Sheriff Winters happened to be in the office 
at the time. He got into a vehicle and drove down at a rapid 
rate to the navy yard, to solict from Major General Stoneman, 
the general commanding this district, for the assistance of the 
troops under his command, to quell the riot. Sheriff Winters 
states that General Stoneman replied when he made the request 
that as the citizens of Memphis had petitioned to have the troops 
removed from the city, they would have to protect themselves 
as best they could, as he had no troops at his disposal for that 
purpose. The duty having devolved upon the sheriff to quell the 
disturbance, he took the most prompt measures to do so. He re- 
turned without delay to the station, summoned all the policemen 
he could procure and accompanied by Captain B. G. Garrett, 
chief of police, the men were marched to the scene of action. 
* * * , While the sheriff and Captain Garrett were scouring 
the streets with their forces, a captain of the regular army, with 
a portion of a company belonging to the 16th regiment of regu- 
lars, arrived on the ground. One or two shots were "fired by the 
negroes after the military made their appearance, but the sight 
of their fixed bayonets, and the determined bearing of the posse 
comitatus, caused them to fly, without loss of time, to their dwell- 
ings in the vicinity. 

Fires took place during the night in various parts of the city. 
and the greatest excitement prevailed among the citizens. Be- 
fore the morning's sun rose no less than three colored churches. 


144 Mississippi Historical Society. 

four colored schools, and about thirty cabins had fallen a prey to 
the devouring element. 

The number of negroes killed in all .amounted to a dozen. 
Four were killed in the affray of Tuesday night; four, including 
the child, on Wednesday morning; and four during the fire on 
Thursday night. Several were more or less seriously wounded. 

This riot, in which four white men and thrice as many negroes 
lost their lives, was charged up largely to the influence exerted 
upon the negroes by the negro troops, and to the spirit of race 
animosity encouraged, or tolerated, by Gens. Thomas and Stone- 
man. It was made the subject of a congressional investigation — 
' the first of many w^hich gave to such activities the name of the 
"outrage mill" ; the finding being invariably colored so as to place 
the worst impression possible upon the Southern people, and for 
partisan capital. The Memphis Avalanche said, "If the commit- 
tee will investigate fairly, the evidence of men who never yet 
lied, will convince them that but for the presence of negro troops 
the riots would never have occurred." The report of this com- 
mittee was thus summarized in an Associated Press publication : 
New York, June 12. — The Memphis riot committee found 
the rebel spirit there rampant, and the city government in the 
hands of Irishmen, who did not enter the rebel army, but who 
are now more disloyal than rebel soldiers. This latter class are 
disposed to be orderly and did not participate in the riots. They 
also found many Northern men engaged in speculation there, as 
bad as original secessionists, and that it is not safe to carry a 
Union flag through the streets. Military protection is consid- 
ered indispensable not only to Union men, but to the safety of 
the property of all. 

. Under the policy decided upon of placing the administration of 
the Freedman's Bureau in each state under its military com- 
mander, the following announcement was made: 

Headouarters Department of Mississippi, 
Vicksburg, April 14, 18G6. 
General Orders No. 17. 

It is with deep regret the commanding general announces that 
Colonel Samuel Thomas, assistant commissioner of the Bureau 
of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands for this state has 
been relieved from duty here and ordered to report to Wash- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 143 


The enlightened, humane, just and impartial course pursued by 
Colonel Thomas in the performance of his delicate and arduous 
duties has secured for him not only the esteem and approbation 
of his professional brethren, but of the vast mass of the popula- 
tion of the state, both black and white. Based on just. and 
sound principles, his administration has been productive of the 
most valuable results. Under his guidance and advice, many 
thousands of the freed people have found good situations, and 
are working iat 'fair and remunerative wages. This result is 
equally advantageous to employers; the interests of labor and 
capital have been equally protected. 

While caring for the immediate wants of the freed people, 
Colonel Thomas 'has sought to promote their further advance- 
ment by providing educational facilities for them, and stimulat- 
ing them to avail themselves of these advantages. The success 
of the efforts for the education of the freed people in this state 
is truly encouraging. 

Colonel Thomas will carry with him to his new field of duty 
the kindest feelings of the commanding general, and sincere 
hopes for his continued usefulness and prosperity. 

By order of Major General Th. J. Wood. 

Marcus P. Bestow, A. A. G. 

While as an institution the Freedman's Bureau was regarded 
with unqualified aversion by the people, and though its evils were 
manifested in many ways and upon a multitude of occasions, with 
qualifications the tribute to Col. Samuel Thomas in the foregoing 
order found common approval. 

Vicksburg, Miss., April 26, 18G6. 
Circular No. 7. 

The undersigned embraces the occasion of his assuming the 
duties of assistant commissioner of the Bureau of Refugees, 
Freedmen and Abandoned Lands in this state, in addition to the 
duties of department commander, to announce what will be the 
fundamental principle of his administration, that of equal and 
impartial justice to all classes of the community. 

Whatever rights are guaranteed to the freed people by the 
laws of the United States or the laws of this state, will be rigidly 
demanded for them. On the other hand, they will be required 
to perform all their duties as members of the community, and to 
observe faithfully and sacredly the obligations of all their con- 

10 . ^> 

146 Mississippi Historical Society. 

The undersigned most earnestly advises the freed people to 
seek permanent lemployment, under written' contracts, rather than 
trust to the precarious reliance of transient situations or tem- 
porary labor for their support. He enjoins upon them to be 
faithful in carrying out the obligations of their contracts; to be 
honest and upright in all their dealings ; to be economical ; to be 
virtuous; to practice strictly all religious duties; to spare no ef- 
forts to provide, to the extent of their means, educational ad- 
vantages, and to so avail themselves of them. 

As no system or policy can be made so minute as to provide a 
redress for every grievance, or so effectually executed as to pre- 
vent the occurrence of any wrong, the undersigned earnestly ad- 
vises the freed people not to become discontented or restless, be- 
lieving there is a hopeful assurance that time and the progress of 
events will, at no distant day, secure to them fully all their just 

The undersigned requests permanent employers especially, and 
the citizens of the state generally, to practice, in their dealings 
with the freed people, not only justice and fairness, but kindness 
and generosity. Such a course, it is believed, is consonant with 
the duties of Christianity and an enlightened civilization, and 
will, in the end, be highly promotive of the interests of the en- 
tire community. 

The planters are particularly requested to aid the freed people 
in securing advantages for education — especially to the juvenile 
portion. It is believed the laboring part of the freed people will 
more readily contract with, and labor more faithfully for, plant- 
ers who pursue this course. It is a well known fact that an edu- 
cated and moral laboring population is far more useful to the 
state that an ignorant and degraded one. 

The educational branch of the bureau will cheerfully give as- 
sistance, to all persons who desire it, to procure teachers and pro- 
vide other means for the instruction of the freed people in their 

In seeking protection for the rights of the freed people, ref- 
erence will be had preferably to the local authorities, in the earn- 
est and confident trust that they will dispense equal and impar- 
tial justice to them. Such officers are urged to remember the ig- 
norance and weakness of the freed people; to investigate fully 
their complaints ; and to afford them a just redress of griev- 

Tn. J. Wood, 
Maj. Gen. Vols., Commanding, 
and Ass't Commissioner, Bu. Ref, & A. L. 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 147 

The integrity of the administration of the Freedman's Bureau 
law by Colonel Thomas and General Wood, and their just com- 
prehension of the duties it placed upon them, greatly mitigated the 
inherent vices of its policy and provisions. But "more „than tem- 
per the wind of the shorn lamb'' they could not do. No admin- 
istration could divest the law of the abuses and mischief it natur- 
ally germinated. It was not possible to prevent its conversion 
into an instrument of wrong and peculation by all the venal 
post commissioners. So general and grievous were the com- 
plaints against the administration of the law that an investiga- 
tion was ordered by the War Department. Generals Steedman 
and Fullerton were detailed for such service. They visited 
every Southern state, holding sessions of inquiry and sending in 
reports as they progressed. Extracts which bear their own com- 
ment are quoted. 

"A very unsatisfactory state of things exist. This originates 
in the arbitrary, unnecessary and offensive interference of the 
agents of the bureau with the relations between the planters and 
their hired freedmen, causing vexatious delays in the prosecution 
of labor, and imposing expenses and costs in suits before them- 
selves about trivial matters that could readily be adjusted by the 
friendly advice of a sensible man. The effect produced by the 
action of this class of agents is bitterness and antagonism be- 
tween the whites and freedmen, a growing prejudice against the 
government among the planters, and expectations on the part of 
the freedmen that can never be realized. Where there has been 
no such interference or bad advice given to the freedmen by the 
agents of the bureau there is a growing feeling of kindness be- 
tween the races, and good order and harmony prevails." 

It was "recommended that the services of the officers of the Bu- 
reau in Virginia be dispensed with, and that their duties be per- 
formed by the officers commanding the troops in the department." 

In the State of North Carolina the Commissioners found the 
Freedmen's Bureau in a most deplorable and utterly demoralized 
condition, with a much stronger popular prejudice against it than 
in Virginia, which they frankly declare is entirely "attributable to 
the misconduct of many of the officers of the Bureau, such as are 
working plantations, running saw mills, manufacturing turpen- 
tine and tar, &c. — operations which bring them, armed with au- 


148 Mississippi Historical Society. 

thority of their official positions, into competition with the citi- 
zens who are employing freedmen." 

They report one of the sub-agents as stealing rations intended 
for the freedmen, and as hiring a large number of them to 'work 
on a farm and ''charging them with Government rations as a part 
of their wages." Everywhere in North Carolina the agents of 
the Bureau were found to be working large plantations on their 
own account, and treating the freedmen as if they were slaves. 
They report, at great length, a former Federal army chaplain, 
who is the despotic governor of a negro colony opposite Newbern. 

They also report that "freedmen" have been murdered in North 
Carolina by agents of the Bureau, and they produce evidence of 
another chaplain of the bureau having stolen and sold at auction 
government clothing intended for the freedmen. They report 
that having detected Major Charles Wickersham, an agent of the 
Bureau, in "compelling negroes" to work on a farm, for which 
service the major was to have one-fourth of the product of their 
labor, that officer attempted to vindicate himself by saying that he 
compelled the freedmen to comply with their contracts by put- 
ing ball and chain upon them merely to show that freedmen could 
be made to work. 

This report, dated May 8th, was preceded by a letter in the 
New York Herald May 7th, forecasting its contents. Gen. How- 
ard, bureau commissioner, rushed in a published letter the fol- 
lowing day to a friend, which is here quoted: 

"I 'have not yet the facts as to North Carolina, but you and 
your friends may rest assured that every shadow of accusation 
of complicity in crime on the part of those officers there is ut- 
terly without foundation. 

"I expect denunciation of this bureau, but the same denun- 
ciation could be made against the Treasury Department, or any 
other department, and of the Government, with equal show of 
justice. The bureau does not do enough to secure the rights of 
the negro, I will admit, but it does not burn negro churches and 
school-houses; it does not reject negro testimony. It will en- 
deavor to prevent starvation until the next crop conies in. It will 
always keep its legitimate objects clearly in view of promoting 
industry, education and justice." 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 149 

To this the Herald responded as follows : "We have noth- 
ing at all to do in this matter with any particular officer of the 
Freedmen's Bureau. They all may be men of integrity, and 
we hope they are ; for it is necessary they should possess some 
personal reputation in order to relieve the whole concern of its 
odious features. The chief officers are not to blame for the 
miserable workings of this enormous charity machine. The 
fault lies in the character of the institution itself and in the sor- 
did operations of subordinate officers. It is, in fact, simply 
an institution for the re-enslavement of the colored population 
of the South, and is doing more harm to them than the old in- 
stitution of slavery. It encourages idleness and vice among 
negroes and places power in the hands of unscrupulous per- 
sons to sell the labor and the bodies of ignorant blacks to the 
highest bidder. By the following it is shown that the War 
Department was not led astray by Gen. Howard's swift and 
sweeping assertions of the righteousness of his bureau tools : 

Major General O. O. Hozvard, Commissioner Freedmen's Bureau: 
The President directs that Col. E. Whittlesey, Assistant Com- 
missioner of the Freedmen's Bureau for North Carolina; Capt. 
T. AL ;Seeley, superintendent for the eastern district of North 
Carolina; Capt. Isaac Rosekrans, commissioner of subsistence 
of volunteers, on duty in the Freedmen's Bureau ; Dr. Rush, 
medical purveyor; Rev. Mr. Fitz, assistant superintendent of the 
Bureau for the Trent river settlement ; Capt. Wheeler, agent for 
the Bureau at Kinston, N. C. ; G. C. Glavis, chaplain, superin- 
tendent Goldsboro; Major J. C. Mann, assistant quartermaster 
and financial agent for the southern district of North Carolina, 
and Major Charles J. Wickershaw, sub-agent for the sub-agent 
Bureau at Wilmineton, be immediately relieved from duty and 
ordered to report in arrest to Maj. Gen. Ruger, commanding the 
Department of North Carolina, who will receive instructions in 
regard to their trial as soon as charges can be prepared against 
them by the Judge Advocate General. 

If the following named persons are in the employment of the 
Bureau, they will in like manner be relieved and ordered to re- 
port in arrest to the department commander: Rev. Horace 
James, of Massachusetts, agent — without pay — of the Bureau 
in Pitt county; also his clerk, named Boyden ; Mr. Winthrop 
Tappan, of Maine ; Mr. Potter, said to be interested with Cap- 
tain Seely, and a Mr. Brooks, said to be interested with Captain 

150 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Rosekrans in cultivating plantations; also, a brother of Capt. 
Rosekrans, said to be employed in the commissary department. 
You will please report your action in the matter for the infor- 
mation of the Secretary; 

E. D. Townsend, 
Assistant Adjutant' General. 

The commissioners, Gens. Steedman and Fullerton, contin- 
ued their investigation throughout the South, sending in re- 
ports with like exposures of abuses of authority and corrupt 
practice, the worst of all being from South Carolina. Their 
work was concluded with Mississippi, the report of that state 
being quoted from as follows : 

"The merging of the Bureau with the military in this State, 
has placed the control of freedmen's affair in the hand of Major 
General Thomas J. Wood, the Department Commander. Gen. 
Wood has greatly improved upon the administration of his pred- 
ecessor, Col. Samuel Thomas, whose policy was not calculated 
to produce harmony between the two races. There is still not- 
withstanding the change of policy introduced ]>y Gen. Wood, 
more ill feeling existing between the black and whites in Mississ- 
ippi than we found elsewhere. There are, however, causes, op- 
erating in certain localities in this State beyond the control of 
any policy the Bureau might adopt, producing antagonism and 
bloodshed. This is the case at Grenada, where an organized 
band of desperadoes have for some time past held the town in 
terror, and in April last murdered Lieut. Blanding, an agent of 
the Freedmen's Bureau. The respectable citizens, who them- 
selves have been subjected to outrage by this gang, strongly con- 
demned the crime, and sought to have the murderers brought to 

At Meridian, in the same State, a condition of things nearly 
as Txid appears to prevail. The Bureau officer there, Major 
J. J. Knox of the V. R. C, was fired upon in the night some time 
ago, for what reason we are unable to learn, as he seems to be 
an excellent officer and on good terms with the people generally. 
These were the only cases of outrages on officers of the Bureau; 
in other districts the agents are well protected. 

At Columbus, Major Smith of the V. R. C, the agent stationed 
there, made some remarkable statements to us, which perhaps 
may serve to show the way in which the reports of agents of the 
Bureau are sometimes concocted. He at first said that the peo- 
ple of his district were well 'disposed, that the freedmen were 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 151 

doing well, and kindly treated by all except the poorer classes of 
whites, from whom alone they required protection. In a very 
few minutes afterwards he asserted that outrages upon freed- 
men had been committed by two-thirds of the planters in the 
neighborhood. When pressed to state specifically the nature of 
the outrages, and by whom committed, he mentioned three only, 
all of which had been committed on the same plantation by the 
overseer, and all of which had been remedied by the planter him- 
self as soon as his attention was called to them. On investiga- 
tion we found the statements of this officer as to the ill-treatment 
of negroes grossly exaggerated, and learned that the agent him- 
self had on one occasion advised a planter with whom he was 
dining to club any negro who refused to work. 

Aside from the places of which we have spoken as being in- 
fested by bad men, we found the negroes in Mississippi working 
industriously, and as a rule kindly treated and doing well. In 
this State, as in others we have visited, the officers of the Bureau 
formerly exercised judicial powers, imposed and collected fines, 
and often kept the records. We found a marked instance of 
this kind at Grenada, where the former agent of the Bureau, 
Chaplain Livermore, did a thriving business in the way of col- 
lecting fines, selling rations and government horses' and mules. 
He displayed remarkable speculative propensities. He charged 
fees ranging from a quarter of a dollar upwards for every con- 
ceivable thing — fees for marrying freedmen and fees for per- 
mits to marry. No fish was too small that came into his net. 
One darkey owed him a dollar and a half and had only a dollar 
to meet the claim. Livermore took his wallet and jack-knife for 
the balance of fifty cents. This close driving is probably to be 
accounted for by the fact that Chaplain Livermore openly ex- 
pressed his determination to return to Illinois with ten thousand 
dollars in his pocket. He sold pork, potatoes and captured 
mules to citizens. He made arrests and convicted or acquitted 
according to the pecuniary argument employed. After he had 
been removed from his post he offered a military officer fifty dol- 
lars for his influence to retain him in his position. Chaplain 
Livermore left no official papers behind him to show what dis- 
position he had made of the funds he had received. A large 
amount was also collected by the first two agents at Columbus, 
in the shape of fees and fines, and so far as we could learn, no ac- 
count was ever rendered of it. This- class of officers have lately 
been mustered out or have disappeared, and under the present 
administration, the agents exercise no judicial powers." 

152 Mississippi Historical Society. 

The secretary of the commission was correspondent of the 
New York Herald. He thus maligned this state : 

Mississippi is just about the hardest case on record. We have 
not been in the State a week yet, and have already found more 
instances of genuine outrage, more bitterness and more lawless- 
ness than in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, 
Florida and Alabama combined. If Mississippi were the South, 
or the Southern States were all Mississippi, there would be some 
degree of truth in the theory of the congressional majority with 
regard to the South and in the statements of the radical press. 
But Mississippi is happily an exception, and a very glaring one, 
to the other States. 

The Vicksburg Herald said: 

"As Gens. Steadman and Fullerton will soon be here, would it 
not be well for those gentlemen to investigate the proceedings 
of the Freedmen's Bureau officials at Davis' Bend. The reports 
of corruption at that place, render it necessary that the officials, 
if innocent, should be exculpated, and if guilty, gibbetted after 
the style of the Virginia and North Carolina rascals." 

Davis Bend plantations, chiefly owned by President Davis 
and his brother, was the freedmen's bureau "garden spot" on 
the river. The commission not having time to investigate the 
"reports" they were taken in charge by Gen. Wood. They 
were based upon the most bare-faced robberies of the negroes 
of the proceeds of their labor, by the bureau agents and em- 
ployes. The "corruption" was broken up and the dens and 
thieves cleaned out by Gen. Wood. 

The commiss'ioners closed their report with the declaration 
that "The necessity of the bureau had ceased and while it had 
been beneficial in some localities, it had been productive in the 
aggregate of more harm than good. It had occasioned and 
will perpetuate discord though administered by the purest and 
wisest men." The contract labor practice which the bureau 
had instituted was strongly condemned. This judgment was 
passed on. Farm labor contracts were commonly made the sub- 
ject of barter and bribery by the bureau agents. Contracts 
which they insisted on in writing were their regular stock in 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 153 

As a rule if the planter refused to be held up in his labor dis- 
putes decision was rendered in favor of the freedman. If the 
planter paid for it lie could have the bureau authority exercised 
in his favor right or wrong. Parson Livermore, the Grenada 
agent, was a type. Out of the bad feeling he engendered came 
the assassination of his successor. Captain King, who was sub- 
sequently assassinated at Greenville, supposedly by a negro, 
was another of the same stripe. His traffic in contracts was 
notorious. The same may be said of the agent at Meridian, 
Major J. J. Knox, who narrowly escaped the same fate. The 
late Captain W. C. Raum of Vicksburg, who planted in Clarke 
county in 1866, related to the writer incidents from his memory 
of that agency. Captain Raum was his victim upon more 
than one occasion. At one time he was fined $150 for flog- 
ging a vagabond negro he caught burglarizing his store room at 
night. Such extortions were common, and yet Garner, in his 
"Reconstruction in Mississippi/' page 268, "was only able to 
find one instance of official dishonesty among , subordinate 
bureau officials which was the case of an agent in Rankin county." 

The report of General Steedman and Fullerton was lost on 
Congress. Regardless of the recommendation that the Freed- 
men's bureau should be abolished, that however wise and pure 
its adminstration it would perpetuate discord, produce more 
harm than good, a bill was passed through Congress modeled 
after the one the President had vetoed in February ; extending 
the life of the bureau and adding to its powers. The follow- 
ing section affirmed and fixed the jurisdiction of the bureau 
officials as despotic and unrestrained as Russian provincial 

Sec. 14. In all the States lately in rebellion, and until such 
States are duly represented in Congress, the right to make and 
enforce contracts, and all other civil rights, shall be enjoyed by 
all citizens without distinction of color, and until the constitu- 
tional relations of such States are restored, the President of the 
United States shall, through the officers of the Bureau, pre- 
scribe military protection and have military jurisdiction concern- 
ing the enjoyment of such immunities ; and no greater punish- 
ment shall be inflicted upon colored people for violations of law 

154 Mississippi Historical Society. 

than that to which white persons are liahle. The jurisdiction 
conferred upon officers of the Bureau by this section shall cease 
in every State where the administration of justice, by the State 
and United States Courts is undisturbed and the State is repre- 
sented in Congress. 

The president vetoed the bill July 16, 1866. Tie said the 
measure clearly fell within the terms of his previous veto of a 
like bill. He reaffirmed without repeating his objections as 
then stated. He said: "Now that the war had been brought 
to a close the necessity for such tribunals which had their 
origin in the war no longer existing, grave objections to their 
continuance must present themselves to the minds of all re- 
flecting and dispassionate men." Reciting provisos from the 
civil rights bill "against the necessity of the pending legislation," 
he said: 

By the provisions of this act, full protection is afforded 
through the District Courts of the United States to all persons 
injured, and whose privileges, as thus declared, are in any way 
impaired, and heavy penalties are denounced against the person 
who wilfully violates the law. I need not state that that law 
did not receive my approval, yet its remedies are far more pref- 
erable than those proposed in the present, the one being civil and 
the other military. 

Historian Rhodes says — page 598, Vol. 5, of his history of 
the United States — "The contrivance of the Freedmen's Bu- 
reau was an act of charity." Than that defense nothing could 
be more inapt. The thing of all others not needed in the 
South was "Charity" — an incentive to idleness and vagrancy 
which emancipation had turned loose like a devouring host of 
locusts. With a cotton famine which opened the purse of the 
world to pay labor in the cotton fields no where in the world 
was charity less needed than among the negroes the Freed- 
men's Bureau had in charge. This statement is verified by the 
following order issued by Gen. Wood shortly before the act 
prolonging the bureau was passed: 

"In the future no rations will be issued to Refugees or Freed- 
men, excqjt to persons who are absolutely unable to support 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 155 

themselves by reason of the helpless tenderness of youth, the ex- 
treme infirmity of age, by disease, or permanent physical debil- 
ity- , . . ' " w*\* 
The mere destitution of persons of any sex or class, who are 
able to labor, is no reason for giving them aid from the Govern- 
ment. In the present great demand for labor, a demand^ which 
far exceeds the supply, there is not the slightest shadow of an 
excuse for any able-bodied person being destitute. All who are 
willing to labor can obtain fair wages." 

Regardless of rules the bill was pressed to a vote in both 
houses the same day and passed over the President's veto by a 
party vote. The line was now so rigidly drawn that hence- 
forth, the President's vetoes were no more than moral pro- 
tests. Another testimonial of the ban under which, the South- 
ern white people lived was displayed in a law with the follow- 
ing sequel: 

"War Department, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen 

and Abandoned Lands, 
Washington, July'2, 18GG. 
Circular No. 7. 

The attention of the Assistant Commissioners of the States of 
Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Florida, is called to an act 
of Congress for the disposal of public lands for homesteads and 
actual settlement in these States, approved by the President 
June 21st, I860. By the provisions of this act freedmen and 
whites who can take an oath that they have not borne arms 
against the United States Government, have the exclusive right 
till January 1st, 1SG7, of entering public lands in the following 
manner: The applicant must make an affidavit that he is at the 
head of a family, or is 21 years of age, or shall have performed 
service in the army or navy of the United States, that the appli- 
cation is for his own exclusive use and benefit, and that said en- 
try is made for the purpose of actual settlement and cultivation 
and not either directly or indirectly for the use or benefit of any 
other person or persons whomsoever, and upon filing the said af- 
fidavit with the register or receiver of public lauds at the land 
office of the districts in which the lands are located and the pay- 
ment of five dollars, the applicant can enter not more than eighty 
acres of land and take immediate possession of it. At the end 
of ten years, if the land has been held and cultivated by the ap- 
plicant, a patent giving him full right and a legal title to the land 
will be issued upon the payment of five dollars." 

166 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Other tyrannous agencies and activities are noted: 

'Washington, July 1, 1866. 
"General Order No. U. 

"Department, District and Post Commanders in States lately 
.in rebellion are hereby directed to arrest all persons who have 
been or may hereafter be charged with commission of crimes and 
offences against officers, agents, citizens and inhabitants of the 
United States, irrespective of color, in cases where the civil au- 
thorities have failed to arrest and bring such parties to trial, to de- 
tain them in military confinement until such time as a proper 
judicial tribunal may be ready and willing to try them. A strict 
and prompt enforcement of this order is required. 
"By command of Lieut. Gen. Grant. 

E. D. Townsend, 
"AWt Adj't General" 

In publishing the above General Wood also announced in 
orders, the names of the United States Commissioners ap- 
pointed by Judge Hill for the enforcement of the Civil Rights 
Bill. The order directs — 

"The officers of the Bureau in this State will immediately put 
themselves in communication with the Commissioners in their 
respective districts, establish harmonious relations with them, 
bring to their notice all infractions of the Civil Rights Bill, and 
aid in bringing the violators to justice. 

"In cases which, under the State laws, injustice is done to 
the freed people, the Commissioners must be appealed to for the 
proper legal redress ; and the officers of the Bureau must aid the 
freed people by their advice and suggestions in availing them- 
selves of the protection granted by the Civil Rights Bill." 

All of these creations of commissions and bureaus, the end- 
less chain of general and special orders and circulars of in- 
struction, for guarding the freedmen laborers from the oppres- 
sions of their white employers, however honestly adminis- 
tered, were so many devices for keeping open the running 
sores of white humiliation and discontent and race estrange- 

The harassing, tyrannical, rapacious regulations governing 
the sale of cotton, the treasury department rules and agencies 
for collecting the taxes levied upon it, the bare-faced robbery 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 157 

practiced upon the cotton growers under claims for possession 
of "Confederate cotton," have already been described. The 
sum total of the cotton confiscation and extortions during the 
year 1865 has never been enumerated. But enough is shown 
by contemporary publications to place it far above the sums 
received from the cotton tax in the ensuing years. The ques- 
tion of the tribute to be thus levied upon the cotton growing 
states appears prominently in the congressional proceedings. 
A government commission included in its report upon the state 
of the cotton industry the following recommendation: 

That a tax of five cents per pound be levied on all cotton raised 
in the United States from and after July 1, 1866; that a tax on 
cotton consumed in the United States be levied on manufacturers, 
and upon that exported upon merchants at the port of export, 
vessels not to be allowed clearance without a certificate that the 
tax has been paid ; also, that a drawback on cotton fabrics to the 
full amount of the cotton be allowed ; that all cotton goods ex- 
ported be exempted from other excise taxes ; that so long as there 
shall 'be a tax upon American raw cotton, there shall be a speci- 
fic duty on all imported cotton fabrics of as many cents per pound 
as are levied on raw cotton. 

Apart from its questionable constitutionality, the imposition 
of a tax on cotton was brutally cruel. It was peculiarly heart- 
less as a hardship on the negro, who under any form or system 
of labor contract was destined to pay the larger portion of the 
tax. This was lost sight of in the hate inspired design for 
punishing white "traitors." The cunning contrivance for re- 
lieving the Northern manufacturers from the tax will be noted 
in the commission recommendation. Meetings were held in 
protest against the imposition. The Memphis Chamber of 
Commerce appointed a delegation headed by a prominent Re- 
publican and ex-iUnion soldier to present the grievance to the 
riot committee then in that city.' The New York Chamber of 
Commerce memorialized congress against it. All such pleas 
for justice, mercy and sound policy went for nothing. Indeed 
Thad Stevens urged that the tax be raised to ten cents. He 
contended for the tax as a penalty to be imposed, that those 
who were responsible for the war debt pay something toward 

158 Mississippi Historical Society. 

liquidating it. His idea was favorably received though the 
majority objected to so heavy a tax, as it might kill the goose 
that lay the golden eggs. The bill finally passed the house, 
fixing the tax at 5 cents a pound. This was reduced to 3 cents 
by the senate and thus fixed, congress felt, doubtless, like the 
spoiler of India "amazed at its moderation." Delivered as an 
act of vengeance and held to be unconstitutional, the moral 
effect of this tax was as hurtful as the material. And, adding 
to the oppressiveness Of the burden, cotton went down as low 
as 15 cents a pound while the tax prevailed. 

The ever reprehensible and significant feature of the cotton 
tax was in its reflection of the congressional hostility toward 
the South: whose distressed and prostrate condition might 
have been expected to attract compassion. How the infliction 
was looked upon in the South may be read in the following, 
from an editorial in the Vicksburg Herald of June 29th : 

No greater outrage, no greater usurpation of power, amongst 
the very many perpetrated by this thirty-ninth Congress, has 
been committed, than the imposition of this tax on cotton. Tax- 
ation in any form, without representation, is sufficiently onerous 
and tyrannical, but to select a staple article of trade, peculiar to 
one section of the country, upon which to lay an enormous tax, 
and that section to have no voice or hearing in the matter, is an 
act of flagrant tyranny never surpassed. 

Did it ever occur to these gentlemen of Congress, that a tax 
of five cents on cotton would be equivalent to paying, from ten 
to twenty dollars a year rent on every acre of land planted in 
cotton. Tax the grain fields of the West and North in the same 
ratio, tax the spindles of Lowell and Salem, so as to produce a 
proportionate revenue, or let even such a thing be discussed, and 
such a storm of abuse will sweep over the heads of these narrow- 
minded tyrants, as will bring them to a sense of their folly and 

Apart from the injustice of the act, to speak of it in the mild- 
est terms, it is unstatesmanlike and short-sighted. 

They are blinded with rage, and in the mad pursuit of party 
ends, fail to see the disaster they must bring upon the country. 

Ignored by standard writers of Northern birth these side 
lights of events illuminate the scrolls of history with the truth 
of the temper of the times as nothing else can. Another ac- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 159 

centuation of persecution and hate was furnished in the report 
of the U. S. grand jury at Norfolk, June 18th. In a list of near 
fifty bills of indictment for treason were included Gen. R. E. 
Lee, his sons, Generals G. W. C. and W. H. F. Lee, Generals 
Long-street, Ewell, Hampton, Early, Mahone, Secretary of 
War Seddon, Secretary <of the Navy Mallory, Governor Smith 
of Virginia and President Jefferson Davis. Certain Confed- 
erate officers of high rank selected to local offices, were ousted 
by order of Secretary of War Stanton. Aroused by rumors 
that Jefferson Davis would be bailed out of prison, the house 
passed the following resolution, introduced by Boutwell of Mas- 
sachusetts : 

Whereas, It is notorious that Jefferson Davis was leader of 
the late rebellion, and is guilty of treason; and whereas, by the 
President's proclamation, May, 18G5, Mr. Davis is charged with 
complicity in the assassination of Lincoln, and said proclamation 
not being revoked, 

Resolved, It is the opinion of the House that the said Davis 
should be held in custody and tried according to law. 

Rogers objected. 

Boutwell moved a suspension of rules, as Rogers desired to 
ask a question. 

The Speaker ruled the debate out of order. 

Rogers, however, asked if Boutwell or any unprejudiced man 
believed Davis guilty of complicity in the assassination of Lin- 

The Speaker called him to order and said he must take his seat. 
- The rules were suspended and the resolution passed. Yeas, 
105; nays, 19. 

In the meanwhile the joint reconstruction committee, of 15, 
Senator Fessenden chairman, was taking testimony on which 
to base its report to congress of Southern conditions, with 
recommendations of legislation accordingly. In this day no 
one, not even the most extreme Republican, can read the con- 
duct of the examination of witnesses, and the treatment of 
their testimony in the committee report, without feelings of 
wonder and shame at its sectional intolerance and partisan 
prejudice. For illustration, one page is quoted as follows: 
"Let us look at the facts shown by the evidence of the com- 

160 Mississippi Historical Society. 

mittee. Hardly is the war closed before the people of these 
insurrectionary states come forward and haughtily claim the 
privilege as a right of participating in that government which 
they had been fighting four years to overthrow." On the next 
page: "The testimony is conclusive that after the collapse 
of the Confederacy the feeling of the people of the rebellious 
states was that of abject submission." Neither description is 
true — in 1866 there was no "haughty claims" and no "abject 

In a letter to Senator Fessenden, Senator Graham, of North 
Carolina, suggested that it would be but justice to permit the 
delegation elected from each state to be present at the recep- 
tion of all evidence touching that state before the reconstruc- 
tion committee, with the privilege of cross examining wit- 
nesses, and, if deemed proper, introducing counter evidence to 
drive home proof of the hard treatment of the South. Mr. Gra- 
ham quoted as follows from a letter written by Major Henry 
C. Lawrence, agent of the Freedmen's Bureau, of North Caro- 
lina: "I think it would be less outrage upon the principles 
of self-government and upon the constitution to treat the South 
as conquered territory, and govern it by our territorial system, 
than to do what is proposed to be done. And in that case Mr. 
Sumner might secure juries composed equally of white and 
black men. I felt ashamed for myself as an American, and for 
my government, when a few days ago Judge Buxton of the 
Supreme Court of this state, called at my office to enquire as 
to the extent of the jurisdiction he would be permitted to ex- 
ercise in a term he was about to hold." In replying Senator 
Fessenden demonstrated to his own satisfaction if not that of 
the distinguished North Carolinian, why his request would not 
meet with compliance. "It is not customary he said to allow 
cross examination of witnesses before a committee appointed 
to report on a subject not involving individuals. The com- 
mittee is supposed to be desirous of ascertaining the truth and 
capable of making all examination necessary." Whatever 
may have been Senator Fessenden's reasons for denying Sena- 
tor Graham's request, the fact exists that cross examination 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 161 

would have been fatal to such testimony on which his commit- 
tee reached its conclusion of southern conditions. 

The list of witnesses included men of prominence from the 
south, among whom were General R. E. Lee, Vice President 
Stephens, Governor Johnson of Georgia, Judges Sharkey and 
Hill of Mississippi; department commanders and other mili- 
tary and bureau officials serving in the South and a crowd of 
obscure civilians, mostly of Union proclivities and northern 
birth — "swift witnesses" to the prejudice and hurt of south- 
ern people. The testimony was divided as "affirmative" and 
"negative" on the questions of the necessity of the Freedmen's 
bureau and troops; a general enmity and occasional cruelty 
toward the negroes ; opposition to the payment of the national 
debt; disloyalty of newspapers and politicians; continuance 
of secession principles; hostility to the Union and Northern 
men. While the report contains some scant references to the 
evidence of the "negatives," it was formulated and tinctured 
only according to that of the "affirmatives." Incidental and 
exceptional abuses were taken up and dwelt upon as the 
rule. The whole people were adjudged guilty on distorted 
and biased statements mainly hearsay. No allowance was 
made for the natural feelings and sentiments of a conquered 
and ruined people. All to their prejudice, was set down in 
malice, nothing extenuated through just, far less sympathetic, 

General Robert E. Lee, then engaged upon his duties as 
president of the Washington and Lee University, was called 
to testify, February 19th. He appeared in Washington and 
his testimony occasioned utmost interest on account of his 
personality. His words were marked by the characteristic 
dignity, candor and moderation of the man. In reply to ques- 
tions propounded by Senator Howard, he denied knowledge of 
any contemplation or purpose of opposition or resistance to 
the United States government. The people favored President 
Johnson's policy of their restoration to the Union. Every 
one, he said, seemed to be engaged in his own affairs and en- 
deavoring to sustain the state civil government, 

162 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Senator Howard was persistent in questioning General Lee, 
if hostile sentiments were not felt toward the government — if 
he had not heard frequently expressions of a wish or a willing- 
ness for it to be embroiled in foreign wars, in which, "the seces- 
sionists would join the common enemy." In spite of the an- 
swer that he had never heard such utterances — that the only 
reference to war ever made in his hearing was the hope that 
the country would not be led into one — the question was re- 
stated in this gratuitously offensive form : "If it is a fair ques- 
tion (you may answer it or not as you choose) what in such 
event might be your own choice?" 

Q. You do not feel down there that, while you accept the re- 
sult, we are as generous as we ought to be under the circum- 
stances? A. They think the north can afford to be generous. 

Q. That is the feeling down there? A. Yes: and they 
think that it is the best policy — those who reflect on the subject 
and are able to judge. 

Q. I understand it to be your opinion that it would be the 
surest means of regaining their good opinion? A. Yes, and 
the speediest. 

The trend of radical thought was disclosed by the question 
if "it would be practicable to convict a man in Virginia of trea- 
son, for having taken part in the rebellion against the govern- 
ment, by a Virginia jury, without packing it with direct refer- 
ence to a verdict of guilty. Upon his disclaimer of any knowl- 
edge on the subject, the question was thus brutally made 
specific: , 

Q. You understand my question? Suppose a jury was im- 
panneled in your town and neighborhood, taken by lot, would it 
be (practicable to convict Jeff. Davis for having levied war on 
the United States, and thus having committed the crime of trea- 
son? A. I think it would be very probable that they would not 
consider he had committed treason ; I do not know whether a jury 
would heed the instructions of the Court to convict the offender. 

Q. They do not generally suppose that it was treason against 
the Government, do they? A. I do not think they so consider 
it. So far as I know they look upon the action of a State in 
withdrawing from the Government, as carrying the individuals 
in it along with it ; that the State was responsible for the act. 
and not the individual. I am referring to the past. 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 163 

Q. State, if you please, and if you are disinclined you need 
not answer — what were your own personal views on that ques- 
tion? A. That was my view : that the act of Virginia withdraw- 
ing herself from the Union carried me with it as a citizen of Vir- 
ginia, and that her laws and her acts were binding on me. 

Q. And that you felt to be your justification in taking the 
course you did? A. Yes, sir. 

Q. I have been told, General, that you have remarked to some 
of your friends, in conversation, that you were rather wheedled 
or cheated in that course by politicians ? A. I do not recollect 
ever making that remark ; I do not think I ever made it. 

Q. If there be any other matter about which you wish to 
speak, do so, freely. A. Only in reference to the last question 
you put to me; I may have said, and I may have believed, that 
the position of the two sections which they held to each other 
was brought about by the politicians of the country; that the 
great masses of the people, if they understood the real question, 
would have avoided it, but not that I had been individually 
wheedled by the politicians ; but I did not believe at the time that 
it was necessary in the condition of affairs, and might have been 
avoided, if forbearance and wisdom had been practiced on both 

The policy of vengeance that was broached in the examina- 
tion of General Lee was more plainly expressed when U. S. 
Judge Underwood was placed on the stand January 31st, as 
here quoted : Q. Could either Jefferson Davis or General Lee 
be convicted of treason in Virginia? A. Oh, no; unless you 
packed the jury. Q. Could you manage to pack a jury there? 
A. I think it would be very difficult, but it could be done. I 
know very earnest, ardent Union men in Virginia." Soon af- 
ter this shameful assurance was given by Judge Underwood, 
indictments were returned in his court against President Davis 
and General Lee. 

Being one in heart and soul with his people, General Lee 
but spoke as they thought and felt. He was resentfully criti- 
cized by many, including General Grant, who was quoted as 
saying that "General Lee was behaving badly — showing a poor 
return for the government's magnanimous treatment." And 
yet the Confederate war chief but voiced trie view which men 
of both sections hold today. But the North was now passing 
under control of bitter and intolerant counsel. 

164 Mississippi Historical Society. 

The testimony of A. H. Stephens was most illuminating. 
His denial of the right of congress to impose the radical policy 
of reconstruction upon the Southern states was as absolute 
as it was unanswerable in logic. He testified that emancipa- 
tion had been accepted in perfect good faith; that the en- 
suing relations between employers and employes was as good 
as anywhere in the country; the people would be very averse 
to negro suffrage; they favored leaving suffrage and the basis 
of representation where the constitution leaves it; while exceed- 
ingly anxious for restoration, the people would not willingly do 
more than they have done for it. Since the war was waged to 
maintain the indissolubleness of the Union, and since that had 
been accomplished, people thought these states were entitled to 
all the rights under the constitution. In this they had been dis- 
appointed. Being asked if it was his opinion that neither of the 
alternatives, negro suffrage or reduction of representation, should 
be accepted, Mr. Stephens answered that "the terms should not 
be offered as conditions precedent." * . 

Question by Mr. Boutwell: 

Suppose the states that are represented in congress and con- 
gress itself, should be of the opinion that Georgia should not be 
permitted to take its place in the government of the country ex- 
cept upon its assent to one or the other of the two propositions 
suggested, is it then your opinion that Georgia ought to decline ? 

Witness. You mean the states now represented, and those 

Mr. Boutwell. Yes. 

Witness. You mean by congress, congress as it is now con- 
stituted, with the other eleven states excluded ? 

Mr. Boutwell. I do. 

Witness. And you mean the same alternative proposition, to 
be applied to all eleven states as conditions precedent to their 
restoration ? 

Mr. Boutwell. I do. 

Answer. I think she ought to decline, under the circumstances 
and for the reasons stated and so ought the whole eleven. 

Should such an offer be made and declined, and those states 
should be kept out, a singular spectacle would be presented — a 
complete reversal of propositions would be presented. In 18G1 
these states thought they could not remain safely in the Union 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 165 

without new , guarantees, and now when they agree to resume 
their former practical relations in the Union under the constitu- 
tion, the other states turn upon them and say they cannot permit 
them to do so safely to their interests without new constitutional 
guarantees. The Southern states would thus present themselves 
as willing for immediate union, under the constitution,' while it 
would be the Northern states opposed to it. The former dis- 
unionists would thereby become the unionists and the former 
unionists the practical disunionists. 

'Q. Do you mean to be understood that there is no constitu- 
tional power in the government as at present organized, to exact 
conditions precedent to the restoration to political power of the 
states that have been in rebellion to the United States? 

A'. That is my opinion. 

General George H. Thomas, commanding the department of 
Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, gave 
evidence such as the committee based its report on. His testi- 
mony is quoted : 

"Union men and freedmen have not, to any great extent, been 
in danger of their lives. But few instances of violence have been 
reported to me. Generally speaking, the presence of United 
States troops, and officers of the Freedmen's Bureau, has been 
sufficient to put down any demonstrations of hostility. I do not 
think it would be expedient to remove the troops until the people 
show that they are themselves willing and determined to execute 
civil law with impartial justice to all parties. I think public sen- 
timent is divided on the subject of allowing freedmen to become 
freeholders. I have heard of no legislation on that subject either 
to empower them to become freeholders or to prohibit them from 
becoming such. If the national troops and Freedmen's Bureau 
were to be withdrawn from the state at this time, I don't believe 
the Union men or the freedmen could have justice done them. 
Injustice toward them would commence in suits in courts for 
petty offences, and neighborhood combinations to annoy them 
so much that they could not reside among them. I <am satis- 
fied, until a better state of feeling shall arise, that if all restraint 
should be removed, the freedmen would be thrown back into 
a condition of virtual slavery; that is, they would be compelled 
by legislative enactments to labor for little or no wages, and 
legislation would assume such form that they would not dare 
to leave their employers for fear of punishment; and unless 
men who had been Union men through the war, had very 

166 Mississippi Historical Society. 

strong" personal friends, they could not live in the state; they 
would be annoyed so much in various way that they could not 
live there in any peace or comfort. 

I do not think Georgia differs materially from Alabama. 
There may be somewhat more of personal hatred toward the ne- 
gro in his relation as freedman, but as yet it has been easily con- 
trolled through the Freedmen's Bureau, and that feeling is con- 
stantly improving in all the states. The people of Mississippi ap- 
pear to me to be more impulsive and more prone to stand up for 
and assert their opinions. It is a difficult matter to describe the 
difference between the people of these two states, yet there is a 
difference. I consider the people of Mississippi the least prom- 
ising. The people of that state do not listen to argument and 
discussion with as much calmness as the people of Alabama do. 
U don't know that I can give a decided opinion of the difference 
in the state of the feeling in those states now and just after Lee's 
surrender, because the reports I received soon after Lee's sur- 
render, were generally from persons who traveled hurriedly 
through that section of the country. I think in the great major- 
ity of cases they were disposed to look on the most favorable 
side immediately after the surrender of Lee and the downfall 
of the Confederacy, and perhaps they did not 'investigate as 
closely as persons would at the present time. The universal re- 
ports made to me by persons traveling through that state at that 
time was to the effect that the mass of the people were happy at 
the downfall of the rebellion and at their prospect of soon again 
getting under the Constitution and government of the United 

General Sheridan testifying as to Louisiana and Texas said 
that without the protection of the army the loyal men would 
be unsafe and have to leave the country. Without the freed- 
men's bureau, with the negroes left under the exclusive con- 
trol of the white people, a war of races would ensue. He 
expressed the following sound views of a Southern policy: 

"I believe tne best thing that Congress or State can do, is to 
legislate as little as possible in reference to the colored man be- 
yond giving 'him security in his person and property. His so- 
cial status will be worked out by the logic of the necessity for his 
labor. It is the only labor that can be obtained in the Southern 
States for some time to come. 

"I believe the majority of the people are not opposed to the 
general government, and, in fact, earnestly desire to be restored 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 1G7 

to a perfect Union with the other States. Still, sufficient time 
has not yet elapsed to efface the recollection of their having been 
reduced from affluence to limited means, the chagrin of being 
conquered, and to submerge the idea of glorifying rebellion and 
its representatives. This latter idea and its consequences prevail 
to so great an extent that I consider the retention of the military 
in Louisiana for some time as necessary for the security of emi- 
grants, freedmen and capital. * * * The feeling and senti- 
ment of those within the limits of my command is as good, per- 
haps, as could be expected ; still not satisfactory." 

Here follows a sympathetic reference to the economic condi- 
tion of the people of Louisiana, closing with the statement that 
"it is not surprising that a spirit of bitterness and discontent 
should prevail." The only actual violence noted by Gen. Sher- 
idan is in the following: "There is a class of lawless people in 
Texas which cannot be controlled except by the military." 

General Grierson testified in reference to Mississippi, Ala- 
bama and Tennessee. "The majority of the people," he said, 
"were hostile to- the government. They did not think they had 
done anything wrong in warring on it — their only regret was, 
that they had failed. He "believed there is now an organiza- 
tion for the renewal of the rebellion." The spirit of resistance, 
he said, is as strong as ever, and in the event of a foreign war, 
the South would not fail to seize the opportunity for destroy- 
ing the Union. 

Other military commanders, Terry in Virginia, and Custer 
in Texas, testified. The former, while saying he "had no social 
intercourse with any except known Union men, the people of 
Virginia were very disloyal, and would gladly embrace an op- 
portunity for independence." Custer said if "the troops were 
withdrawn loyal men could not remain in Texas." Gen. How- 
ard testified that "many persons exhibited ill feeling and a 
disposition to circumvent the government requirements with 
reference to the negro." In truth such carping complaints 
were against show of feelings which were natural and irre- 
pressible a year after the war. 

168 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Gov. Wm. L. Sharkey, examined by Mr. Boutwell : 

I will state, in general terms, that when I went out to Missis- 
sippi as Provisional Governor, a very large majority of the peo- 
ple — I do not know but fifty to one — were perfectly reconciled 
to the condition of things, and very anxious to' be restored to 
their former position in the Union. I think they were sincerely 
and honestly so; that was the current sentiment, beyond all 
doubt, at that time ; the rebel military leaders were perfectly sat- 
isfied, and I do not know but as a general rule they were the most 
loyal part of the community; they gave up honorably, and all 
said they were disposed to accept things as they found them; but 
there were a few men within my own knowledge who had done 
but little during the war, who were dissatisfied ; but a very large 
majority of our people were as loyal, to use the term in its proper 
sense, as any people in the United States— that is to say, they 
were willing to obey the government and its laws, and to sup- 
port and to sustain it, and I think they are so yet. ^ 

I should make this remark, however : the people came up freely 
and voluntarily and did, as they supposed, all that was required 
of them; they met all the demands of the President and with 
great cheerfulness; what changes may have occurred since I left 
there I cannot tell ; but I do not think any material changes have 
taken place; still, you know when men do all that is required of 
them and all that they think is right, pressure does not in any 
degree contribute to their loyalty, and I have been very much 
afraid that the condition of tilings here would shake their confi- 
dence in the government ; I was so well satisfied with the tem- 
per, disposition and wishes of the people that I did not think it 
necessary to submit the amended constitution to them at all. I 
was perfectly sure that the people were fully and fairly repre- 
sented; the members of the convention were elected on the gen- 
eral proposition of reforming the Constitution, and I have no 
Soubt that they represented truly the sentiments of a large major- 
ity of the people of the State. 

Q. What is the general condition of the freedmen in Missis- 
sippi; are they disposed to labor, and are they laboring and re- 
ceiving fair wages? 

A. They have gone to work with a great deal of good will, 
and in most parts of our State they are hiring freely and cheer- 
fully; the freedmen, as I hear from all parts of the State are do- 
ing remarkably well ; however, there is no disguising the fact, 
the freedmen's bureau and the colored troops there have done 
more mischief than anything else; the great amount of com- 
plaints originate from the localities where the negro soldiers are. 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 169 

Wherever there is a negro garrison the free negroes congregate 
around it and as a matter of course crime and depredations are 
committed. I truly believe if at the time I was there all the 
troops and the freedmen's bureau had been withdrawn, I could 
have had a perfect state of order throughout the state. 

Governor Sharkey further testified that the Mississippi con- 
gressmen-elect without exception were opposed to secession — 
all had been Whigs except one. This was the tribute paid vol- 
untarily by the Southern voters and their leaders to Northern 
sentiment — a tribute it is needless to say that was of no avail 
whatever. * 

Federal Judge Hill, a consistent Union man throughout the 
war, like Judge Sharkey, testified favorably of the condition and 
treatment of the negroes and of a "universal disposition of loy- 
alty to the United States/' 

Union General John Tarbell, who had purchased a farm in 
Scott County, Mississippi, gave in a different experience story 
from that of most of his class. "The intelligent accepted the 
situation in good faith," he said. "Their disposition was to 
give negroes all their rights, except suffrage; they have well 
grounded complaints against the freedman's bureau; reports 
of outrages on negroes are greatly exaggerated. Many in the 
North very greatly overrate the negro; I have entire faith the 
races will settle down on terms equitable and just to both. 

Like Gen. Thomas, and others, Gen. C. B. Fisk gave to Mis- 
sissippi a particularly bad bill of health. Everywhere he 
scented disloyalty, but "Mississippi was in a worse condition 
than any. There is more brutal treatment of the negro and 
more persecution of white loyal citizens." The most he could 
say of Arkansas and Alabama was that they "were better than 
Mississippi." Gen. Fisk testified strongly for the retention of 
troops and the bureau in the South — that "the freedmen would 
not remain there otherwise. Northern men could not live 
there. With sentiment inflamed by the women, the pastors and 
the newspapers the great mass are bitterly hostile to the gov- 
ernment. The newspapers urge the people not to let the Yan- 
kees settle among them." Of such fly blow testimony as Gen- 

170 Mississippi Historical Society. 

eral Fisk's, by a hundred witnesses, there are hundreds of 

The champion witness was Capt. J. H. Matthews, of the GGth 
colored infantry, stationed at Magnolia, in Mississippi, as sub- 
bureau commissioner. Of the large store of horrors he un- 
loaded on the committee, the following was the crown and cli- 
max: "On the Kane plantation near Zion hill a woman was 
literally cut to pieces, in which Kane, a militiaman, took an 
active part. He and the lieutenant of the militia company can 
be identified as being present." 

"I respectfully invite your attention to a murder committed 
by one Jno. H. McGee, some nine months since, which would 
challenge the world for an equal in studied brutality, but for want 
of facts, I did not feel warranted in reporting before. The ne- 
gro was murdered, beheaded, skinned, and his skin nailed to the 
barn. * * * I have given these statements in a plain house- 
hold style, and my only regret is my inability to do the subject 
simple justice." That story had been reported to Col. Thomas, 
of the Freedmen's Bureau, early in January. 'Being apprised 
of it action was taken — a month before it was laid before the 
committee — as stated in the following from the Woodville Re- 

On the 14th of February, there was a meeting of the citizens 
of Zion Hill, Amite county, for the purpose of investigating into 
the truth of reports made to Gen. Thomas by one Captain Mat- 
thews, Commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau, lately stationed 
at Magnolia. Among the statements made in his report, was one 
that Mr. John H. McGehee, of Amite, had "murdered and skinned 
a negro, and nailed his skin to his barn door." This and other 
statements were found to have no — or such slight — founda- 
tion that they readily fell to pieces at the touch of the investi- 
gating committee. Their utter falsity was abundantly proved, 
and resolutions were passed condemning Capt. Matthews' report, 
courting investigation by the Freedmen's Bureau, or elsewhere. 

The examination df witnesses was conducted by Senators 
Howard, of Michigan, Williams of Oregon, and Boutwell of 
Massachusetts — extreme radicals. The minority took little 
part in it — made no attempt whatever at cross examination, to 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 171 

sift out the false' and prejudicial allegations with which the 
greater part of the testimony teemed. 

The people of the South as a rule were wholly unprepared 
for the storm brewing in this committee room for them. Their 
error was in over calculating on the President's protection, and 
in misunderstanding the sway that radicalism could establish 
over congress and the Northern masses. After vainly seeking 
additional guarantees for the institution of slavery which they 
deemed essential after the government had passed into the 
hands of a sectional party, one founded upon the paramount 
issue of abolition, the Southern states had exercised their right 
of secession. Having been warred upon and conquered under 
the theory that the union was indissoluble and the states inde- 
structible, they had looked for no other conditions than pre- 
scribed under the President's proclamations re-establishing 
their state governments, which was fatuously regarded as final. 
While the loss oif slave property with its ruinous effect upon 
land values and the labor system spread poverty over the land, 
there was full and honest acceptance of the situation as it 
stood when congress assembled in December, 1865. Mr. Lin- 
coln had so held, and after him Mr. Johnson held, that the 
southern states after failure in the war were forced back into 
the position and relations in the Union from which they had 
unsuccessfully tried to part. And that with their submission 
and upon the acceptance of the emancipation of the slaves and 
such other terms and penalties as were prescribed in the execu- 
tive proclamations, they were entitled to restoration to the 
Union with their rights under the Constitution unimpaired. 
Both asserted the power of the executive to organize pro- 
visional state governments. This power was denied by Thad 
Stevens as "preposterous." "It should now be solemnly de- 
cided," he said in his opening speech, "what power can revise, 
recreate and reinstate these provinces into the family of states. 
It is time that congress should assert its sovereignty." This 
was the immediate purpose of Radicalism — to call a halt on the 
executive creation of provisional governments and substitute 
the jurisdiction of congress over the reconstruction procedure. 

172 Mississippi Historical Society. 

This was made plain when congress assembled — that the Presi- 
dent's terms and actions were to be set aside, and that of con- 
gress, with other and harsher, enacted. With some Republicans 
went with them haltingly, they were soon solidly arrayed 
against the president's plan of reconstruction. 'Under the in- 
spiration of South hate, of making treason odious, all were 
rallied behind Stephens and Sumner for the exaction of addi- 
tional conditions — conditions to harass and humiliate. There 
was the further calculation in the plan to be adopted of making 
the party hold on the government sure for the future. For ar- 
gument against the president and the constitution, the doctrine 
of "dead states," of "states that had committed suicide" was 
invented. Under that revolutionary theory congress could deal 
with the question of southern restoration with a free hand. 
"Conquered territory" was conceded no appertaining rights as 
states. It, nevertheless, proved difficult to work out an accept- 
able scheme of legislation. The house passed a resolution for 
reduction of southern representation as early as January 31st. 
But after a month of debate it failed of a two thirds vote in 
the senate. The question being referred back to the committee 
it was reported again April 30th. Argument in opposition to 
the president's policy under which provisional governments 
had been organized in the south, was carried to great length 
and extreme harshness in the committee report. 

Throughout, it is void of one note of commiseration, far less 
of palliation or generous emotion, for the prostrate and sorely 
afflicted Southern states. No promulgation of "Anathema 
Maranatha," ever breathed a more unforgiving, harsh and venge- 
ful spirit. This applies particularly to the summary of the 
report, which emitted no gleam of compassionate hope. The 
acts of secession are stigmatized as wanton and wicked ag- 
gression. The "great mass of the Southern people" are de- 
nounced as "insurgents, rebels and traitors — reduced to the 
condition of enemies conquered fn war and entitled only to 
such rights, privileges and conditions as might be vouchsafed 
by the conqueror." Having "forfeited all civil and political 
rights and privileges under the constitution, they can only re- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 173 

sume their Federal relations * * * upon giving adequate 
guarantees against future treason and rebellion." The follow- 
ing inflammatory clauses of the report are quoted : 

Sixth. The question before Congress is, then, whether con- 
quered enemies have the right, and shall be permitted at their 
own pleasure and on their own terms, to participate in making 
laws for their conquerors, whether conquered rebels may change 
their theater of operations from the battle-field, where they were 
defeated and overthrown, to the halls of Congress, and, through 
their representatives, seize upon the government which they 
fought to destroy ; whether the national treasury, the army of the 
nation, its navy, its forts and arsenals, its whole civil adminis- 
tration, its credit, its pensioners, the widows and orphans of those 
who perished in the war, the public honor, peace and safety, shall 
all be turned over to the keeping of its recent enemies without 
delay, and without imposing such conditions as, in the opinion 
of Congress, the security of the country and its institutions may 

Seventh. The history of mankind exhibits no example of such 
madness and folly. The instinct of self-preservation protests 
against it. The surrender by Grant to Lee, and -by Sherman to 
Johnston, would have been disasters of less magnitude, for new 
armies could have been raised, new battles fought, and the gov- 
ernment saved. The anti-coercive policy, which, under pretext 
of avoiding bloodshed, allowed the rebellion to take form and 
gather force, would be surpassed in infamy by the matchless 
wickedness that would now surrender the halls of Congress to 
those so recently in rebellion until proper precautions shall have 
been taken to secure the national faith and the national safety. 

Ninth. The necessity of providing adequate safeguards for 
the future, before restoring the insurrectionary States to a par- 
ticipation in the direction of public affairs, is apparent from the 
bitter hostility to the government and people of the United States 
yet existing throughout the conquered territory, as proved incon- 
testably by the testimony of many witnesses and by undisputed 

In conclusion "the so-called Confederate states" were de- 
clared not entitled to representation in congress. To win such 
privilege they must give "adequate security for future peace 
and safety through changes of the organic law determining the 
civil rights and privileges of all citizens and place representa- 
tion on an equitable basis, fix a stigma upon treason, etc. ; to- 

174 Mississippi Historical Society. 

gether with an express grant of power in congress to enforce 
these provisions." 

The committee minority report ably urged the right of the 
Southern states to full restoration, to the enjoyment of all their 
political privileges, immunities and franchises in the Union, 
their citizens having respectively, for more than a year, given 
complete obedience to the authority of the Union. It shows 
conclusively that policy and justice and obligations alike pre- 
scribed that the general government should, without further 
delay, accord to the Southern States their full constitutional 
rights, such as all other States possess. It shows, also, that 
no danger can possibly result to the Union from the admis- 
sion into Congress of the Southern members, by exhibiting the 
fact that, under the present apportionment, the non-seceding 
States would have a heavy majority in both houses of Congress. 

May 11th the house passed the committee resolution, the 
proposed 14th amendment to the constitution. But, most sig- 
nificantly, an accompanying bill which made it a finality — 
which declared that upon its "ratification the senators and rep- 
resentatives of any state lately in rebellion, that shall have 
modified its constitution and laws in conformity therewith, may 
be admitted into congress" — was rejected. The resolution 
passed the senate in an amended form June 8th by a vote of 
33 to 11. The resolution went back to the house and after ex- 
treme opposition from Mr. Stevens to the senate amendment, 
it passed the house by a vote of 120 to 32, henceforth to be 
known as the 14th amendment to the constitution. It is quoted : 

Joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution 
of the United States : 

"Resolved, By the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled, two-thirds of 
both Houses concurring, that the following article be proposed 
to the Legislatures of the several States, as an amendment to the 
Constitution of the United States, which, when ratified by three- 
fourths of said Legislatures, shall be valid as part of the Con- 
stitution, namely: 

"Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the LTnited 
States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 175 


United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State 
shall make or enforce any laws which shall abridge the privileges 
or immunities of citizens of the United States, nor shall any State 
deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due pro- 
cess of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the 
equal protection of the laws." 

"Sec. 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several 
states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole 
number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed ; but 
whenever the right to vote at any election for electors of Presi- 
dent and Vice President, and for United States representatives in 
congress, executive and judicial officers, or the members of the 
legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of 
such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the 
' United States, or in any way abridged except for participation in 
rebellion or other crimes, the basis of representation therein shall 
be reduced in the proportion which the number of each male citi- 
zen shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one 
years of age in such state." 

"Sec. 3. No person shall be a senator or representative in con- 
gress or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any of- 
fice, civil or military, under the United States or under any state, 
who, having previously taken an oath as a member of congress, or 
as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state 
legislature, or as an executive or civil officer of any state, to sup- 
port the constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in 
insurrection or rebellion against the same or given aid or comfort 
to the enemies thereof, but congress may, by a vote of two-thirds 
of each house, remove such disability." 

"Sec. 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, au- 
thorized by law, incurred in the payment of bounties and pensions 
for services in suppressing the insurrection or rebellion, shall not 
be questioned ; but neither the United States nor any state shall 
assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrec- 
tion or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for loss or 
emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and 
claims, shall be held illegal and void." 

The aversion of Mr. Stevens to agreeing to the resolution as 
amended by the senate, was the change it made in the third 
section. As reported from the committee and passed by the 
house, the said section provided that "until the 4th day of July, 
1870, all persons who voluntarily adhered to the late insurrec- 
tion, giving it aid and comfort, shall be excluded from the right 

176 Mississippi Historical Society. 

to vote for representatives in congress, and for electors for 
President and Vice-President of the United States." Speaking 
against the change of the section, Mr. Stevens said : 

"Mr. Speaker, I rise to conclude the debate, but I will not move 
the previous question until I finish what I have to say. I am glad, 
sir, to see great unanimity among the Union friends in this house 
on all the provisions of this joint resolution except the third one. 
I am! not very much gratified to see any division among our 
friends on that which I consider the vital proposition of them all. 
Without that it amounts to nothing. I do not care the snap of my 
finger whether it be passed or not if that be stricken out. Before 
another congress shall have assembled here, and before this can be 
carried into full effect, there will be no friends of the Union left 
on this side of the house to carry it out. I should be sorry to 
find that the provision was stricken out, because before any 
portion of this can be put into operation that side of the house will 
be filled with yelling secessionists and hissing copperheads. Give 
us the third section or give us nothing* , Do not balk us with the 
pretence of an amendment which throws the Union into the hands 
of the enemy before it became consolidated. Gentleman say I 
speak of party. Whenever party is 'necessary to sustain the 
Union I say rally to your party and save the Union. I do not 
hesitate to say at once, that section is there to save or destroy the 
Union party, is there to save or destroy the Union by the salva- 
tion or destruction of the Union party. 

The gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Bingham) who has just taken 
his seat, thinks it difficult to carry it into execution, and he pro- 
poses to put it into a bill which the President can veto. Will my 
friend tell me how much easier it is to execute it as a law than as 
a provision of the constitution? I say if this amendment pre- 
vails you must legislate to carry out many parts of it. You must 
legislate for the purpose of ascertaining the basis of representa- 
tion. You must legislate for registry, such as they have in Mary- 
land. It will not execute itself, but as soon as it becomes a law, 
congress, at the next session, will legislate to carry it out, both in 
reference to the presidential and all other elections, as we have 
the right to do. So that subject falls to the ground. 

Gentlemen tell us it is too strong — too strong for what? Too 
strong for their stomachs, but not for the people. Some say it is 
too lenient. It is too lenient for my hard heart. Not only in 
1870, but to 18070 every rebel who shed the blood of loyal men 
should be prevented from exercising any power in this govern- 
ment. That, even, would be too mild a punishment for them." 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 177 

There was no material difference between Stevens* and 
Bingham. The latter and the leaders generally preferred meth- 
ods for toning down the face of the amendment. Having 
to go before the country on the reconstruction issue, it was 
politic to make it acceptable to the party moderates. Nothing 
was given up by the pretense of moderation — the wide field of 
usurpatory legislation comprised in the fifth section of the 
amendment could be securely trusted for a hundred fold more 
of oppression to the South than the clause for which Stephens 
contended. While many thousands voted the Republican tic- 
ket under the belief that the 14th amendment was submitted as 
a finality for restoration of the South to the Union, Bingham 
and the rest of the leaders knew that it was not. Here they 
held a card up their sleeves. It is of interest to note that 
while negro suffrage was not written in the amendment for 
the reasons above stated, an amendment was offered by Sena- 
tor John B. Henderson, of Missouri, prohibiting any race 
suffrage discrimination. Being voted down, he said, "It would 
not be five years before this body will vote for it." The posi- 
tion and prediction from a Senator of a former slave holding 
state was made much of by the radicals. The prophecy was 
verified with some years to spare, but even before its fulfillment 
the prophet had parted with his radical companions, who 
scourged him from their fellowship and his senatorship. 

While the 13th amendment had been submitted to President 
Lincoln's approval after adoption by congress, a different rule 
Was followed with the 14th amendment. It was held to be 
complete without the signature of the executive who was sim- 
ply requested by the resolution "to transmit forthwith to the 
executives of the states copies of the article of the amend- 
ment." The president, nevertheless, without contending over 
the procedure took occasion to signify his opposition to the 
article. In a message to congress, he questioned the validity 
of ratification when the article had not received the requisite 
two-thirds vote, counting the constitutionally excluded South- 
ern Senators and Representatives. The President's reasoning 
was given no heed by congress. Yet while denying these 

178 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Representatives and Senators a voice in adopting the amend- 
ment, the Southern states were required to ratify it as a condi- 
tion precedent to readmission. 

Three states, including Tennessee, ratified the amendment 
before congress adjourned. Upon the joint resolution, Ten- 
nessee was "restored to her former practical relations to the 
Union and was again entitled to be represented by Senators 
and Representatives in Congress." Whereupon eight repre- 
sentatives and two senators appeared and were sworn in. In 
approving the resolution admitting Tennessee, the President 
criticised the absurdity of the action in the case of Tennessee ; 
that "a state may be too disloyal to be entitled to representa- 
tion and nevertheless have an equally potent voice with the 
states in amending the constitution upon which so essentially 
depends the stability, prosperity and very existence of the 
Union." The same inconsistency, however, had been practiced 
in the ratification of the 13th amendment by Southern states, 
which the President had urged upon them. 

Congress adjourned July 28th, the Northern states being at 
once plunged into a heated campaign upon the issues that had 
marked the session — a test of the popular feeling upon the rival 
reconstruction plans of the President and congress. In antici- 
pation and preparation for the momentous combat a call was 
made before adjournment by the President's supporters, under 
the name of the National Club, for a national union convention 
at Philadelphia, August 14th ; the call for delegates declaring : . 

"There is no right anywhere to dissolve the Union or to separ- 
ate states from the Union, either by voluntary withdrawal, by 
force of arms, or by congressional action ; neither by secession of 
states, nor by the exclusion of their loyal and qualified represen- 
tatives, nor by the national government in any other form. 

Slavery is abandoned, and neither can nor ought to be re-estab- 
lished in any state or territory within our jurisdiction. 

Each state has the undoubted right to prescribe the qualifica- 
tions of its own electors ; and no external power rightfully can or 
ought to dictate, control or influence the free and voluntary action 
of the states in the exercise of that right. 

The maintenance inviolate of the rights of the states, and espe- 
cially the right of each state, to order and control its own domes- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 179 

tic concerns according to its own judgment exclusively, subject 
only to the constitution of the United States, is essential to that 
balance of power on which the perfection and endurance of our 
political fabric depends, and the overthrow of that system by 
usurpation and centralization of power in congress, would be a 
revolution, dangerous to a republican government and destructive 
of liberty. Each house of congress is made by the constitution 
the sole judge of its election returns and qualifications of its mem- 
bers ; but the exclusion of loyal senators and representatives, prop- 
erly chosen and qualified under the constitution and laws, is unjust 
and revolutionary." 

This call was met by one for a convention in the same city, 
Sept. 3rd, called for the loyalists of the South — inviting dele- 
gates from all the Northern states, to explain to them the ex- 
act situation in the South. That call was adopted as a rallying 
cry for the radical side of the issue. "Rebels and rebel sym- 
pathizers assert the rights of the citizen must be left to the 
States alone, and under such regulations as the respective 
States choose voluntarily to prescribe. Our reliance for pro- 
tection is now in congress and the great Union party that has 
stood and is standing by the nationality, by the constitutional 
rights of the citizen, and by the beneficent principles of a free 
government. To the loyal Unionists of the South ; the great 
issue is upon us, the majority in Congress and its supporters 
frankly declare that the rights of the citizens enumerated in 
the Constitution and established by the supreme law must be 
maintained, inviolate. 

Shall loyalty or disloyalty have the keeping of the destinies 
of the nation? Let the responses to this call, which is now in 
circulation for signatures, and is being numerously signed, an- 

But before referring further to that, in effects, most far reach- 
ing of all the national campaigns — one that foreshadowed and 
laid the trains for unnumbered evils — it is deemed essential to 
further expose a flagrant, deeply designed perversion of history, 
grafted upon the adoption of the 14th amendment. Northern 
writers with lax scruples of veracity have sought to establish 
as a fact that, had the Southern states accepted that article 

180 Mississippi Historical Society. 

they would have been readmitted to the union without other 
conditions. The purpose of this contention which was abso- 
lutely and demonstrably false, is to fix upon the Southern states 
the responsibility for the sins of the north — to establish in his- 
tory that had the states lately in "rebellion" accepted the 14th 
amendment there would have followed no reconstruction act, 
no 15th amendment; that they would have escaped the years 
of the scandalous and shameful carpet bag era which subse- 
quent legislation set up. The chief of the false witnesses for 
this perversion of history is James G. Blaine. Writing twenty 
years after, when the seed of which he had been one of the 
sowers, had borne its evil and bitter fruit, he strove to avert the 
eternal judgment of impartial history by making a scapegoat 
of the south. 

But in the pages embracing it is .contradiction of the charge — 
that had the South ratified the 14th amendment there would have 
been exacted no further reconstruction terms. Page 242 of 
"Twenty Years in Congress" is quoted from : "There was an un- 
mistakable manifestation throughout the whole canvass of 1866, 
by the more advanced section of the Republican party, in favor 
of demanding impartial suffrage as the basis of reconstruction." 
That this "more advanced section" had the whiphand of the 
canvass from start to finish was plain to all. And yet, on 
page 247, Mr. Blaine says : "The confederate states that stood 
knocking on the door of congress for readmission, knew the 
political canvassing in the North had proceeded on the basis 
and practical assurance that whenever any other Confederate 
state should follow the example of Tennessee it should be 
treated as Tennessee was treated. The madness of this course, 
(the rejection of the amendment) was scarcely less than the 
madness of secession, and it is difficult to discern any motive 
that could justify the position they had taken." The maze of 
contradictions on this point is followed further: On page 256, 
Blaine, the historian, quotes Blaine, the congressman : "It hap- 
pened, Mr. Speaker, possibly by mere accident, that I was the 
first member of this house, who spoke in committee of the whole 
on the President's message, at the opening of this session. I then 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 181 

said that I believed the true interpretation of the election of 18GG 
was that, in addition to the proposed constitutional amend- 
ment, impartial suffrage should be the basis of reconstruction. 
Why not declare so?" On page 412: "The Republican victory 
of 1866 led to the incorporation of impartial suffrage in the 
reconstruction laws." On one page Mr. Blaine says the elec- 
tion of 1866 carried the assurance that the adoption of the 14th 
amendment was the key to the door of admission to the Union, 
on another that this same election — held before the Southern 
legislatures had rejected the amendment — was a mandate for 
negro suffrage. As a circumstance of proof of the first of his 
opposite contentions, Mr. Blaine cites the "important declara- 
tion' of the New York Republican convention" — "that when 
any of the late insurgent states shall adopt the 14th amend- 
ment, such state shall at once, by its loyal representatives, be 
permitted to resume its place in congress." He says "this view 
was generally concurred in by the Northern states. And if 
the Southern states had accepted the broad invitation there 
given there is little doubt that before the close of the year they 
might have been restored to the enjoyment of every power and 
privilege under the national constitution. There would have 
been opposition to it, but the weight of public influence and 
the majority of both branches of congress, would have been 
sure to secure this result." Mr. Blaine makes this assertion 
in the face of this fact : That the reconstruction committee sub- 
mitted with the 14th amendment a bill containing the identical 
"important declaration" adopted by the New York Republican 
convention. In the rapid progress of Congress from bad to 
worse, that bill was rejected. The rejection is mentioned by 
Mr. Blaine but without explanation or reconcilement of its con- 
tradiction of "the result" he says he was sure of. Repeatedly 
in debate such a declaration, that the 14th amendment be ten- 
dered as a finality, was urged and rejected. Leader Stevens 
expressly declared in the debates that he would impose other 
and harder conditions. He was endorsed by the radical press. 
In commenting on the "broad invitation" of the New York Re- 
publican convention, the New York Post, said, "It would not be 

182 Mississippi Historical Society. 

committed to admission of the Southern states on adoption of 
of the amendment and we believe too that the Tribune will 
support Mr. Stevens." The New York Independent, the lead- 
ing radical organ, thus declared itself: "Republicans may 
agree to pretend that the constitutional amendment, is a just 
and final settlement, but they deceive themselves. So far as 
any local convention and general committees of the Republi- 
can party have undertaken to pledge that party to the con- 
stitutional amendment, as a touchstone of readmission, they, 
have promised what they will prove impotent to fulfill. The 
Republic is the cedar of Lebanon, on whose boughs not one of 
these dead promises will hang next December. An unfettered 
congress will then meet fresh from its long vacation and ex- 
pected to do its duties. Its leading members cherish the se- 
cret wish to make impartial suffrage the golden gate of read- 
mission/' How dishonest of Mr. Blaine, to ignore comments 
on the "important declaration of the New York convention/' 
which with the current of events took away all of the signifi- 
cance he attaches to it. These comments were but echoes from 
the speeches of the leaders, breathing a bitter and relentless 
hate before which the Johnson policy withered and went down 
even as that of Lincoln would have done, had he been in the 
executive seat. Against the parade of the horrors of the war, 
of Southern prisons, the assassination of Lincoln, and the 
gross exaggerations of negro outrages, no human power could 
have prevailed. They quelled conservative opposition and fired 
and filled Northern hearts with passion and hate. Mr. Shella- 
barger, of Ohio, sounded the key note in this hate inspiring and 
venomous indictment against the Southern people : 

"They expelled from their land or assassinated every inhabitant 
of known loyalty. They framed iniquity and universal murder 
into law. Their pirates burned your unarmed commerce upon 
every sea. They carved the bones of your unburied heroes into 
ornaments and drank from goblets made out of their skulls. 
They poisoned your fountains, put mines under your soldiers' 
prisons. They planned one universal bonfire from Lake Ontario 
to the Missouri. They murdered by systems of starvation and 
exposure, sixty thousand of your sons, and then to give to the in- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 183 

fernal drama a fitting close and concentrate into one crime all that 
is criminal in crime, they murdered the President of the United 

This diabolic appeal to Northern hate, Mr. P>laine called "a 
caustic summary worthy to be quoted." 

Even more conclusive proof that the adoption of the 14th 
amendment had never been submitted or intended as a full and 
final preliminary to readmission, is to be rea4 in certain re- 
marks of General Grant. In February, 1867, the Arkansas 
Legislature sent a delegation to Washington to confer with 
members of the administration and congressional leaders as 
to what course the state should take when the reconstruction 
plan then pending should be submitted to the Southern states. 
Returning home members of the delegation, in an interview 
with Mr. George D. Prentice, who entertained them, and which 
was reported in the Louisville Journal, related a conversation 
at the dinner table of Secretary of State Seward, who had ar- 
ranged a meeting for them with General Grant. "At the be- 
ginning of the session of congress," Gen. Grant said, "I had 
urged on the prominent members of congress if they intended 
to make the adoption of the amendment on the part of the 
Southern states, the condition precedent to readmission, they 
ought to pass a resolution to that effect, solemnly pledging 
congress to receive the senators and representatives into that 
body. If they did not take some such step, they could riot ex- 
pect the Southern people to take a step that might be prelim- 
inary to others that would lead them they knew not where." 
On the question of negro suffrage, the General was more de- 
cided, stating it was a question that should be left wholly and 
entirely with the several states, and emphatically declared that 
"if the question came up in Illinois he would certainly vote 
against it. But if he were in a Southern state, he would vote 
for it, for he was satisfied he could march the negroes to the 
polls and vote them as he pleased and would thus be gaining 
instead N of losing political power." Gen. Grant at this time was 
considered a doubtful quantity, though he was still more with 
the administration than the radicals. In other w^ords, he still 

184 Mississippi Historical Society. 

thought and spoke as the plain, honest soldier, not having 
yielded to the temptations of the Presidency which soon capti- 
vated and captured him. 

The fact that Tennessee was restored to the Union, her sen- 
ators and representatives admitted to seats in Congress, upon 
her ratification of the 14th amendment, is used by both Rhodes 
and Blaine as a clincher of their claim that nothing more would 
have been exacted of the other Southern states. Rhodes says : 
"The action of Congress in regard to Tennessee evidenced the 
terms upon which members of the late confederacy might be 
admitted to the rights and privileges of the Union." Mr. 
Blaine thus states the case: "Tennessee had regained all her 
rights as a member of the Union, coming in through the gate- 
way of the 13th and 14th amendments. It was evident from that 
moment that no one of the Confederate States would ever again 
be admitted except by giving their assent to the incorporation 
of the 14th amendment in the Constitution." This is not an 
honest presentation of the case. Mr. Blaine is more cunning 
than Mr. Rhodes. He implies but he does not say that "by 
giving their assent to the incorporation of the 14th amendment 
to the Constitution/' the southern states would have been ad- 
mitted to the rights and privileges of the Union. There is too 
much evidence of history to the contrary. The resolution ad- 
mitting Tennessee recited that her admission w T as due to the 
ratification of the 13th and 14th amendments, that she has 
done other acts proclaiming and denoting her loyalty." What 
were these other acts? A constitutional restriction of the 
franchise to those who were "publicly known to have enter- 
tained unconditional Union sentiment from the outbreak of the 
Rebellion" was one. In spite of such proscription, a small mi- 
nority of conservatives, of men who favored the extension of 
suffrage after the war was ended, were elected to the legisla- 
ture. By abuse and intolerance they had been compelled to 
withdraw to private life. This was another "evidence of loy- 
alty" which won the favor of Congress. Another was the gov- 
ernorship of the notorious and rabid south hater, William G. 
Brownlow. A solid delegation of Republicans had been chosen 


Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 185 

to Congress. In the light of these circumstances, it is mock- 
ery to say that the "other members of the Confederacy could 
have been admitted to the rights and privileges of the Union, 
had they, like Tennessee, ratified the 14th amendment." A 
circumstance of the admission of the Tennessee delegation to 
Congress affords further proof that the 14th amendment was 
not meant as a finality ; that behind it lurked negro suffrage. 
The Tennessee delegation, with the assemblage of congress, 
December, 1866, was required to send a communication to the 
Tennessee Legislature "earnestly praying that the 16th section 
of the franchise act, which restricted suffrage to whites, be re- 
pealed, thus giving full effect to the principle upon which is 
based our restored state government by obliterating from the 
statute books the last vestige of legislation which imposes dis- 
abilities, when there has been no blame, and which neither 
time nor merit can mar." Repeatedly the reconstruction 
committee report emphasized the fact these historians ignore — 
that Tennessee presented a different and a preferential case to 
that of the other Southern states. 

In the face of all the array of record evidence, Blaine and 
Rhodes would convict the Southern people of folly and con- 
tumacy in not forsaking the President's policy for that of the 
radicals — that by trusting to the wolves of radicalism they 
would have escaped negro suffrage. The falsity of their logic 
is proved by the "death bed" confession of Senator John Sher- 
man, one of the President's 1866 assailants: "After this long 
lapse of time I am convinced that Mr. Johnson's scheme of 
re-organization was wise and judicious. It was unfortunate 
that it had not the sanction of congress." 

These northern historians are careful not to say what Ten- 
nessee gained by readmission that made her condition better 
than that of the other members of the southern confederacy. 
Her state administration thereafter in historic record, furnishes 
one of the blackest chapters in all reconstruction history. 
Through his militia, and sustained by the Federal troops, 
Brownlow perpetrated more enormities of oppression than any 
of the others, unless possibly paralleled by the deeds of carpet 

186 Mississippi Historical Society. 

bag governments in Arkansas and the Carolinas. The Nash- 
ville Union of May 31st, 1867, a year after Tennessee had been 
blessed by restoration to the Union, publishes a report of a 
committee of citizens to inquire into the conduct of the militia 
"which had been driving citizens from their homes, entering 
homes under the pretense of searching for arms, insulting wo- 
men, alarming children, and theatening to kill." The following 
which tells of a threat, consummated, is quoted from a list of 
outrages cited: "Yesterday morning about daylight, militia- 
men went to the house of a peaceable citizen, James Brown, 
took him into the woods and deaf to the appeals of his wife and 
father, put him to death in a cruel and heartless manner. Other 
citizens were shot at and the lives of many threatened for the 
part they took in the war now over two years. Out of the out- 
rages by Brownlow's militia grew the Klu Klux Klan. The 
most abhorrent feature of Tennessee tyranny, was that these 
crimes were committed under the shelter of the United States 
flag and troops. Otherwise Brownlow would have been driven 
out of the state and his militia annihilated. An instance is 
.cited of the use of the federal force for tyrannizing over the 
people. A municipal election was pending in Nashville, in Sept., 
1867, which Brownlow had determined to control. He issued 
the following order to General Joseph A. Cooper, command- 
ing state guard : 'Sir, you will bring to Nashville immediately, 
all the troops, infantry and cavalry, you can command to en- 
able you to protect the judges, and clerks, and to enforce the 
franchise law. If need be, call on Gen. George H. Thomas, 
commander of the department of the Cumberland, for additional 
force." Realizing that the citizens of Nashville would not 
be held down by the state militia, General Thomas was ap- 
pealed to and on Sept. 26th, he issued the following order of 
eternal infamy : "All of the companies of the Second infantry, 
also two companies from Memphis, the two at Paducah and 
Humboldt, the one at Union City, and the company of the 5th 
cavalry, will proceed to Nashville to uphold the authority of 
Gov. Brownlow." This order was referred to and sustained by 
General Grant. The city was consequently occupied by the 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 187 

United States troops. In a proclamation, the Mayor of Nash- 
ville protesting against "this most unjust, illegal, and high- 
handed course, submitted to force" and he withdrew from the 
contest for reelection, and Brownlow's ticket was chosen with- 
out opposition. 

In his history of the United States, Rhodes thus alludes to 
Blaine: "But here, as elsewhere, in his interesting but inaccur- 
ate history, he furnishes no authority for his statement." It 
may be said with truth that many of "his statements" are made 
in the face of "authority." And in dealing with this crucial 
period of history, Rhodes lays himself open to the same im- 
peachment. Blaine never uttered words less authorized by the 
facts than the following quotedj from page 610, volume 5, 
Rhodes' history of the United States : "If Johnson had sym- 
pathized with the 14th amendment, the ratification by the 
southern states would certainly have ensued." This effort to 
make a scapegoat out of the President as responsible for the 
rejection by the southern states is an utter perversion of the 
truth. Mr. Johnson's objection to the 14th amendment was 
based upon its violation of his theory for the readmission of 
the southern states. Pie questioned the validity of the 14th 
amendment resolution for the reason as stated in his message, 
that it "had not been submitted to the president for approval 
and that 11 of the 36 states were excluded from representation 
although they had been entirely restored to all of their func- 
tions as states in conformity with the laws of the land * * * 
nor had the sovereign people of the Nation been afforded 
an opportunity of expressing their view r s upon the important 
questions which the amendment involved." While the South 
shared in the President's opinion, the amendment would not 
have been rejected on that ground alone. It was certain of the 
terms that the southern states balked on. On the other hand, 
the terms were not only not touched upon by the president, 
the South's opposition on that ground did not appeal to his 
sympathies. The repudiation of the amendment by the South- 
ern people was instinctive, instantaneous and practically unan- 
imous. They did not wait for the President's message to de- 

188 Mississippi Historical Society. 

clare that they would not ratify the amendment. Neither the 
executive influence with all its powers of reward or punish- 
ment, could have added to this determination, nor weaken the 
opposition if used in favor of the amendment. 

On page 248 of his "Twenty Years in Congress/' Mr. Blaine 
asserts that, "scornful rejection of the 14th amendment was 
because it conferred citizenship on negroes ; that it was a de- 
mand that without the vote they should be counted in repre- 
sentation; a refusal to give any guaranty of the public debt; 
or to guaranty the sacredness of pensions to disabled soldiers ; 
or to pledge non-payment of debts incurred in aid of the rebel- 
lion." Each of these assignments of motive for rejection of the 
14th amendment is false ; there was no thought or talk of re- 
sisting the conference of citizenship on the negro, the natural 
and inevitable sequence of emancipation ; no demand and small 
expectation that without the vote they should be counted in 
representation ; no thought or word of refusal of guarantee of 
the public debt, or of pensions ; or of the payment of the Con- 
federate debt. These flagitious fictions were invented to mislead 
and prejudice. Mr. Blaine has sinned against light. There 
was no ambiguity or secrecy of reasons for rejection of the 14th 
amendment. All of the records and chronicles tell the story, and 
none sustain any one of Mr. Blaine's alleged causes of rejection. 

Fleming's "Civil War and Reconstruction of Alabama," page 
394, is quoted: "There was no longer any belief that fur- 
ther yielding would do any good. The more the people gave 
the more they were asked. Condition after condition had been 
imposed and had been absolved ; slavery had been abolished ; 
secession acknowledged a failure ; the war debt repudiated ; the 
legislature had ratified the 13th amendment, had secured the 
negroes in all their rights of personal property * * * 
moreover they were opposed to the amendment because it 
branded their best men as traitors." * * * The Mobile 
Register said "it is one thing to be oppressed, weighed down 
by overwhelming force, it is quite another to submit to volun- 
tary abasement. The amendment should be rejected because 
it would disfranchise the very best of the whites, the beloved 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 189 

leaders of the people." Governor Patton advised the legisla- 
ture "not to ratify the amendment. It involved a creation of 
penalty after the act. On this ground it was an ex post facto 
law, contrary to the whole spirit of modern civilization. Such 
a mode of dealing with citizens charged with offenses against 
the government belonged only to tyrants. It might accomplish 
revengeful purposes but that was not the proper way of ad- 
ministering justice." 

Governor Orr, of South Carolina, argued against adoption at 
length and without touching upon the ground, Mr. Blaine al- 
leges. He concluded his message as follows : "If the amend- 
ment is adopted, we not only have no guaranty that our repre- 
sentatives will be admitted to Congress, there are unmistakable 
indications that they would still be excluded. If the amend- 
ment is to be adopted, let it be by the irresponsible power of 
numbers, and let us preserve our own self respect and respect 
of our posterity by refusing to be the mean instruments of our 
own shame." Page 34, John S. Rennolds, Reconstruction of 
South Carolina. 

Both of these Governors, Orr and Patton, were "union" men, 
opponents of secession and conservatives. In Mississippi the 
grounds of rejection were summed up in a letter to Governor 
Humphreys — who submitted it to the legislature — from Judge 
Sharkey, who was in Washington as one of the state's unad- 
mitted senators. It is dated September 14th, 1866, and is 
quoted from as follows : "In the first place the amendment was 
unconstitutionally submitted, less than two-thirds of the full 
congress recording their votes upon it. The situation was dif- 
ferent with the 13th amendment. Then there were no' members 
from the South. Again, the fourteenth amendment had not 
been submitted to the President." Gov. Sharkey next argued 
that taking the first and last sections together, the power of 
conferring suffrage on the negroes under this amendment was 
deducible. Under the provisions of the second section for re- 
duction of representatives in proportion to the denial of the 
elective franchise to male citizens of voting age, Mississippi 
would probably be excluded from any representation at all as 

190 Mississippi Historical Society. 

her negro males of twenty-one equaled her white voters of that 
age. This was a leverage to force the state to negro suffrage. 
The third section was pronounced "a sweeping disfranchise- 
ment of perhaps a majority of our citizens for holding Federal 
or state offices. So contrary to our form of government was 
this provision, so oppressive to a very large population of the 
state, that it cannot be supposed that those who proposed it 
could have entertained a thought that it would be accepted. " 
The fifth and last section Gov. Sharkey pronounced, "The Tro- 
jan horse, abounding in mischief.' , This was the same weapon 
that had led the same legislature a year before to reject the 
thirteenth amendment — the conference of power on congress 
"to enforce by appropriate legislation the provisions of this 
article." This clause, Gov.' Sharkey asserted, "may be con- 
strued to authorize congress to do whatever it desires to do. 
Under this same provision attached to the emancipation 
amendment, you have the civil rights bill and the freedman's 
bureau bill. It was construed in the senate just as I admon- 
ished many members of the legislature, it would be, to author- 
ize this odious measure. We should profit by the experience 
it has furnished us." 

Ex-Gov. Sharkey was the most eminent jurist in Mississippi. 
He had presided over her highest court for many years. He was 
an uncompromising opponent of secession and as such had been 
chosen by President Johnson provisional Governor — to lead in 
the restoration of the state to the Union. Having discharged the 
duties of that position he became the most inveterate opponent in 
the state of a policy of reconstruction that involved the violation 
of the Federal constitution, the rights of the state, and the self- 
respect of the people. For further light on the truth of the ques- 
tion why the 14th amendment was rejected, the following editor- 
ial extracts are quoted from the Vicksburg Herald and the Rich- 
mond Whig: 

"But the third section is the proscriptive clause, which excludes 
from office nearly every officer in the state, from the highest to the 
lowest. Its adoption would degrade our governor, state officers, 
the high court judges, nearly every circuit court judge, every ex- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 191 

perienced legislator — in fact, ostracise every faithful and experi- 
enced public servant who in times past loaned his services and tal- 
ents to the state. Its ratification by any Southern state would be 
a gross act of perfidy, as well as most ruinous to every interest of 
the state. 

This amendment must come to Mississippi. In a few words, 
we can tell its authors, the legislature will reject it unanimously. 
Mississippi cannot adopt it. Better military rule, and loss of rep- 
resentation, than the endorsement of conditions so humiliating. 
We will preserve our honor to the last. 

——"Better be 
Where the extinguished Spartans still are free, 
In their proud charnel of Thermopylae/' 

than to voluntarily become the instruments of our own degrada- 

v From the Richmond Whig. 

The Course of the South — The Constitutional Amendment. 

The constitutional amendment, which after passing the senate, 
has now passed the house of representatives by a strictly party vote 
of 120 to 32 — all those voting for it being Republicans, and all 
voting against it being Democrats — gives the Republicans what 
they wanted, what they indeed were obliged to have ; an election- 
eering device to carry them decently through the approaching 
elections at the North. A pretence will avail them as satisfactorily 
as a real honest plan of adjustment and restoration, . and this is 
nothing but a pretence. Its most pregnant section is its last and 
briefest — "The congress shall have power to enforce, <by appro- 
priate legislation, the provisions of this article." The legislation 
contemplated by this section has already been shaped, and is in the 
form of a bill, reported from the committee of fifteen, which, by a 
compromise between the radicals and moderate Republicans, is to 
lie over until after the elections. This bill prescribes the condi- 
tions of admission. In no section, line or word, does this pro- 
posed amendment to the constitution provide for admission; on 
the contrary, in every section, line and word, it provides for ex- 
clusion. If ratified by every state legislature in the South it 
would not ensure the admission of one to the Union. It, there- 
fore, promises the Southern people — nothing. 

If this amendment shall be submitted to all the Southern states, 
and they shall ratify it, they will gain nothing. In fact, their 
condition will be worse than it is now. Their ratification will 
make this amendment a part of the constitution, and by their own 
act and assent they will be excluded from all participation in the 

192 Mississippi Historical Society. 

government until they comply with its provisions, and with such 
legislation a\s congress shall adopt to give it effect. Who can tell 
what this legislation will be ? 

This device is a fraud and a cheat upon both North and South. 
It is a makeshift by which the dominant party hopes to secure suc- 
cess in the fall elections. It hushes for the present all ^controversy 
between the two wings of the party, and presents it as a unit 
against the Democrats, while postponing the bill by which it is to 
be followed; a present issue with the President is avoided — 
for the constitutional amendment is, in radical contemplation, 
not subject to his veto, and the bill which is so subject will be held 
back until after the elections. Perhaps radical ingenuity may 
even devise some mode by which the bill may hereafter be passed 
by the concurrent action of the two houses without the interven- 
tion of the President. 

If by the ratification of this amendment the Southern states 
could gain admission into the Union, it would be a dear bargain, 
and a degrading one. Our hope is that not a single Southern 
state would be willing to purchase admission on such terms, but 
rather remain as they are, unrepresented in congress, and half in 
and half out of the Union. But, as we have said, their ratifica- 
tion of this amendment will not ensure them a return to the Union, 
but will leave them to the mercy of congress, and subject them to 
such conditions as enabling bills may impose. 

For being swayed by such sentiments in rejection of the 14th 
amendment, northern censors and historians assert that the South- 
ern states are responsible for the ensuing legislation, the loth 
amendment, the reconstruction laws and negro suffrage, that 
placed them under carpet bag government. Their contention is 
fixed upon the false assumption that the acceptance of the 14th 
amendment would have opened the door of readmission to the 
Union without the imposition of other conditions. Forced to ad- 
mit that Sumner and Stevens would not have accepted such a 
finality, Rhodes, on pages 609 and 610, Vol. 5, says to minimize 
his admission : 

"Stevens indeed no sooner secured one set of conditions than 
he began to contrive for others, and Sumner never pretended that 
he would consider as final any plan of reconstruction that did not 
establish impartial suffrage, but their following at this date was 
not large." 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 193 

The attempt to minimize the following of Stevens is preposter- 
ous. Rhodes himself says on page 544, that Stevens at the open- 
ing of the session "apparently dominated the whole proceeding 
* * * the Republican majority of considerably more than 
two-thirds stood firmly at his back." This domination over the 
house, Stevens maintained unshaken and unquestioned through- 
out the session, nor did he advance step by step — "no sooner se- 
curing one set of conditions than he began to contrive for others." 

The amendment was rejected in the South in the winter of 
1866 and 1867 and here is what an honest chronicler, Congress- 
man S. S. Cox, said of Stevens: 

"He was more than Mr. Sumner or Judge Howe, the construc- 
tionist of the new order and the obstructionist to the rebuilding 
of the old order. In the house of representatives, early in the 
session of the 38th congress, on December 5, 1865, he arose to 
dictatorship. He commanded a universal party obedience. That 
congress had great parliamentary ability. It had its Wilsons, 
its Binghams, its Shellabarg°rs, its Blaines, it had but one Thad- 
deus Stevens. This man was not superficial. He 'was pro- 
found. He knew that the times call either for retrogression or 
else organic and risky forwardness. He would not ask to carry 
out the constitution. * * * He cared little for motives that 
actuated the defenders of the Union who suppressed secession. 
On the 18th of December he unfolded his audacious, sweep- 
ing and vindictive policies. History demands its reproduction, 
for it presents the whole architectural design of radical re- 
construction. Piece by piece that design was wrought into the 
reconstruction plan. It never deviated, it was neither hindered 
or promoted by any sentiment of favor or resistance in the South. 
'Since the conquest/ said Mr. Stevens, 'they have been governed 
by martial law. As there are no symptoms that the people of 
these provinces will be prepared to participate in constitutional 
government for some years, I know of no arrangement so proper 
for them as territorial government. There they can learn the 
principle of freedom and eat the fruits of foul rebellion/ " 

In demonstrating the falsity of the claim that the 14th amend- 
ment was offered as a finality of admission, that its ratification 
would have effected the restoration of the Southern states as co- 
equals in the union, it is not pretended that they would have so 
accepted it had this claim been valid. Asking their compliance 
with the 3rd section struck deeper than logic or calculation. It 

194 ^ Mississippi Historical Society. 

was a blow at the feelings of the people — compliance would have 
left a lasting- scar of dishonor and degradation. They held the 
price of the sacrifice of their leaders to be too high to be reached 
either by appeals to their fears or interests. Henry J. Raymond, 
editor of the New York Times and member of Gongress, where 
he was recognized as leader of the President's small Republican 
following, thus proposed that the leaders should sacrifice them- 
selves : 

"Such an appeal does not proceed on any chivalrous hypothe- 
sis." It does not imply the possession of superhuman virtues by 
the Rebel leaders. It simply presupposes their possession of 
common generosity, common justice, and we may add, common 
sense. For, while we hold that, as a matter of duty, the promot- 
ers of and chief actors in the. Rebellion owe to the Southern peo- 
ple the sacrifice we have suggested, we believe that, as a mat- 
ter of prudence, they would find it to their advantage. Nothing 
would so quickly or so surely mitigate the feeling of the north 
toward them, and help to improve their own position, as this dis- 
play of disinterestedness, coupled, as it no doubt would be, with 
the ratification of the Amendment by the South and the restora- 
tion of cordial and constitutional relations between the sections. 
It is in their power by one graceful act to atone for the injuries 
inflicted upon their neighbors, and to prove that in seeking restor- 
ation they are not intent upon their own glory and aggrandize- 
ment. If the Southern leaders will voluntarily assume the dis- 
abilities imposed by Congress, and so remove the great obstacle 
to the acceptance of the Amendment by the South, the gloom 
which overhangs its future may be removed before the close of 
the coming session. 

Mr. Blaine's perversion of facts and special pleadings has 
proved a text book of false reading of reconstruction history. 
His book has been invaluable to Northern apologists of the pe- 
riod. Involving as it does the question of the responsibility of 
the North for the ineffaceable shame of reconstruction, attempts 
to muddy the waters — to convict the South of a guilty folly — is 
not surprising. Blaine has been glibly quoted and his conclu- 
sions unhesitatingly accepted by the Southern carpers against the 
patriotic men who were summoned to contend against the malevo- 
lent measures of radicalism. Because they did not attempt to 
grow figs from these thistles, trim the sails of the ship of state 

Mississippi's Provisional Government— McN eily. 195 

by expediency both base and vain, they have been written down by 
these censors, wise in the light of the afterglow of events, as lack- 
ing practical statesmanship ; their vision has been proclaimed as 
obscured and their judgment deflected under a lull of a sense of 
security, which they had not the wit to perceive was fictitious and 
dangerous. The leaders of 1866-67 have been condemned by Job's 
comforters, which came after, as utterly if not wilfully oblivious 
of the real question and practical situation. They failed of lofty 
statesmanship, say the wise-acres of the might-have-been, when 
they did not place the South in line with Northern sentiment, and 
bow down in recognition of the spirit of liberality of the "Republi- 
can leaders. These historical conceits are mere plasterings of 
the annals of time. They will soon decay and drop off, leaving 
the true entablatures legible and eternal. These will tell that the 
events of an era of breakup, of the passing of the old and the en- 
tering of the new order, ensued in natural and inexorable evolu- 
tion. The moving causes dated far back and lay (deep below the 
shallow contentions over policies and constitutional constructions. 
They are untouched by the egotistic quibbles of expediency, the 
hind sight visions of casuists and carpers. The actual outcome 
was clearly forecast by the statesmen of an earlier day. It was 
not hypothesis but wisdom and cold logic, that inspired John C. 
Calhoun to say of the anti-slavery agitators, who rose to power as 
the aftermath of war: "Emancipation will not satisfy them. 
That gained, the next step will be to raise the negro to social and 
political equality." Mr. Webster foretold the same evil outcrop 
of events : "If these fanatics and abolitionists ever get the power 
in their own hands," he said two years before his death, "they will 
override the constitution and set the supreme court at defiance." 
These warnings were verified over and over again by "these fa- 
natics" grasping the power which passed to them finally and 
fully in the election of 1866. 

The president had not been supported heartily by all of his cab- 
inet in his southern policy. He made no changes when he suc- 
ceeded Mr. Lincoln in his official advisers ; for which some of his 
friends criticized him. They claimed he should place at the 
heads of the departments men of personal devotion and in full 

196 Mississippi Historical Society. 

sympathy with his policy. As a disagreement between him and 
the radical leaders deepened and grew more clearly defined the 
strain upon the cabinet harmonies became greater. Though 
there was no open disturbance, the first to go was Postmaster 
General Dennison on July 11th. His resignation was closely 
followed by those of Attorney General Speed, and Secretary of 
the Interior Harlan. While his heart was in the camp of the 
president's enemies, and he knew that he was distrusted, Secre- 
tary of War Stanton — most unfortunately for the administration 
and the country — hung on. He was believed to have a thorough 
understanding with the radical leaders, who agreed with him that 
to resign would be to surrender vantage ground for helping them 
and hampering the president. 

The counties generally had responded to the call 'for repre- 
sentation at the Philadelphia convention of supporters of the 
president — for organization of opposition to the policy of radical- 
ism as foreshadowed by Congress. Delegates were chosen to a 
state convention in Jackson, July 25th. This convention followed 
the footsteps of that of the year before, in choosing delegates 
of Union or anti-secessionists as follows : 

From the State at large — Hon. W. Yerger, Hon. George L. 
Potter, Col. Giles M. Hillyer, Judge W. L. Sharkey. 

First Congressional District — Dr. Henry Dockery, Col. T. E. 
B. Pegues. 

Second — Hon. Jas. S. Bailey, Dr. G. A. Sykes. 

Third — Hon. Abraham Murdock, Capt. John A. Binford. 

Fourth— Gen. Nat. H. Harris, Col. A. G. Mayers. 

Fifth— Hon. H. F. Simrall, Col. Geo. V. Moody. 

The following was adopted : 

Resolved, That the convention, approving the restoration policy 
of President Johnson, as opposed to the radical policy of con- 
gress, and having been invited by a large number of distinguished 
•fellow-citizens of the Northern states of the Union, to meet with 
representatives from all the states of the Union in a national con- 
vention, to be held at Philadelphia on the 1-ith of August next, 
this convention accepts that, invitation, and will proceed to the 
election of four senatorial delegates and of two delegates from 
each congressional district, to represent the state of Mississippi 
in said proposed Philadelphia convention. 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 197 

The first fruits of the radical policy ripened in New Orleans 
July 30th in a bloody riot. As a distinct forecast of what was to 
follow, a brief of the outbreak is given. A' handfull of the 
delegates of the Lincoln convention of 1S64, twenty-nine out of 
150, were made the instruments of an attempted overthrow, of the 
state government ; with the design of setting up one based on ne- 
gro suffrage. Judge Durel of the United States district court, 
who had been the president of that convention, refused to issue 
the call for its assemblage, holding that it was defunct. He was 
thereupon formally deposed by the rump assemblage and R. K. 
Howell elected president. After directing the governor to is- 
sue writs of election the "convention" adjourned to July 30th. 
As this proceeding was looked upon as vain and harmless though 
of vicious intent it was not taken seriously by the authorities or 
the public. But it was given a very different color when the 
governor of the state, J. Madison Wells, a name destined to be 
linked with the iniquities of reconstruction, issued the said writs, 
regardless of the refusal of the secretary of state to attach his 
official seal to them. 

Reading in the assemblage of the convention a storm signal 
sure to rain blood unless checked, the mayor of the city and the 
Lieutenant Governor of the state, called on General Baird, com- 
mander of the post, and asked if the proper legal proceedings for 
the prevention would be permitted. The answer was that no in- 
terference with a peaceable meeting would be tolerated. Thus 
encouraged and emboldened, meetings were held by convention 
leaders shortly before the convention was to meet, large crowds 
of negroes attending. Inflammatory addresses were made to en- 
list their support for those who proposed to make them voters. 
In the presence of a threatening situation, Mayor Monroe issued 
a proclamation on the convention morning enjoining on all the 
avoidance of collision and disturbance of the peace. But with 
the streets filled with marching bodies of negroes, upon a lawless 
and revolutionary purpose, their leaders exhorting them to kill 
any one who interfered with them, violence and bloodshed was 
unavoidable. Radical politicians in the North gave out the false 
story that the police body was sent to the place of its meeting to 

198 Mississippi Historical Society. 

disperse the convention. They were, in fact, under directions to 
repress rioting. But the atmosphere was so charged with the 
electricity of political fanaticism and race hate, that — between ne- 
groes crazed by crack-brained and irresponsible leaders, and 
whites wrought up to fury by the menace of a wicked attempt at 
subversion of their government — the firing /broke out naturally. 
When it began there was a wild rush of negroes and their white 
leaders for cover. Such as could got into the state house, whose 
doors were locked with five or six hundred whites and blacks in- 
cluding delegates of the convention, on the inside. From this 
fortress the police were fired upon as they advanced with deadly 
effect. The firing was returned by the police and some white 
citizens for more than an hour, before entrance was effected. 
When the building was emptied a number of members of the con- 
vention and others were arrested. The military did not appear 
on the scene until afterwards when martial law was announced 
and the prisoners arrested were released. 

Forty or fifty men were killed and three times as many in- 
jured. As afterwards reported by a partisan congressional com- 
mittee, thirty-seven negroes and three whites were killed and a 
hundred and nineteen blacks and IT whites wounded of the con- 
vention side ; one killed and ten wounded of the assailants. But 
as reported at the time in an investigation by the Lieutenant 
Governor, Attorney General, and Mayor of New Orleans ''forty- 
two policemen and several citizens, were either killed or wounded 
by the fire from the state house." 

The outbreak was seized upon by the radicals and invested 
with the grossest exaggerations. It was used most effectively 
in the northern campaigns for a general and a damning indict- 
ment of the southern people. In his report of the affair to Gen- 
eral Grant, General Sheridan said: "It was no riot. It was an 
absolute massacre by the police, which was not excelled in mur- 
derous cruelty by that of Fort Pillow. It was a murder perpetu- 
ated without the shadow of necessity." In a broad view the lack 
of necessity and the cruelty may he admitted. It was none the 
less a natural development of the situation. With the governor 
backing a wicked attempt to overthrow the state government, the 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 199 

mayor, the other heads of the state administration and the sher- 
iff placed in leading strings, by the military governor, while con- 
fining the troops to barracks, the police were left to cope with a 
turbulent mob and their incendiary leaders on their own initiative. 
While thus denouncing the police, General Sheridan did not fail 
to severely censure the mob leaders and their design. ' Nor did 
he spare Governor Wells. 
His report is quoted from : 

To U. S. Grant: 

General — You are doubtless aware of the serious riot which oc- 
curred in this city on the 30th. A political body, styling itself the 
convention of 1864, met on the 30th for, as it is alleged, the pur- 
pose of remodeling the present constitution of the state. The 
leaders were political agitators and revolutionary men, and the ac- 
tion of the convention was liable to produce breaches of the pub- 
lic peace. I had made up my mind to arrest the head men if the 
proceedings of the convention were calculated to disturb the tran- 
quillity of the department. But I had no cause for action until 
they committed the overt act. In the meantime official duty called 
me to Texas, and the mayor of the city, during my absence, sup- 
pressed the convention by the use of the police force, and in so do- 
ing attacked the members of the convention and a party of two 
hundred negroes with fire-arms, clubs and knives in a manner so 
unnecessary and atrocious as to compel me to say that it was mur- 
derous. About forty whites and blacks were thus killed and 
about 1G0 wounded. Everything is now quiet. But I deem it 
best to maintain a military supremacy in the city for a few days, 
until the affair is fully investigated. I believe the sentiment of 
the general community is great regret at this unnecessary cruelty, 
and that the police could have made any arrest they saw fit with- 
out sacrificing lives. The leading men of the convention — King, 
Cutler, Hahn and others, have been political agitators, and are 
bad men. I regret to say that the course of Governor Wells has 
been one of vacillation, and that during the late trouble he has 
shown very little of the man. 

(Signed) P. H. Sheridan, 

Maj. Gen. Com'g. 

In a report to the president Gen. Sheridan said : 

I will remove the military governor in a day or two. I again 
strongly advise that the same disposition be made to change the 

200 Mississippi Historical Society. 

present mayor, as I believe it would do more to restore confidence 
than anything that could be done. 

If the present governor could be changed also it would not be 

With a foreboding realization of the consequences, if such men 
as General Sheridan names were permitted to set up -a dual state 
government, looking to congress for recognition and support, su- 
pine tolerance was not to be expected from the citizens of Louisi- 
ana. As much as the massacre was to be deplored, the alterna- 
tive of nipping this convention with its inclination of evil in the 
bud at whatever cost, was justified. 

The Philadelphia convention, designed for organizing all of the 
opponents of radicalism — Whigs, peace Democrats, war Demo- 
crats and conservative Republicans, in the election of a majority 
of congressmen in the pending election, was quite largely at- 
tended. It was richly supplied with leadership, Northern and 
Southern, of a high order of talent and patriotism. Its delibera- 
tions were led by Republicans of national prominence. Resolu- 
tions of indorsement of the President were adopted and an elo- 
quent appeal was issued to the nation. In opening the conven- 
tion ex-Gov. Dix of New York, the temporary presiding officer, 
declared that in ratifying the amendment, abolishing slavery and 
repudiating the war debts, the conditions of readmission of the 
South had been fully met. And that the exaction of new condi- 
tions was unjust,, a violation of the faith of the government and 
dangerous to the public prosperity and peace. Senator Doolittle 
of Wisconsin, the permanent president of the convention, asserted 
that the South would be unworthy of trust in the exercise of the 
rights withheld by congress, if they were willing to submit to the 
humiliation of the terms proposed for regaining them. After a 
great deal of speechmaking such as a coming together of men of 
the North and of the South, for the first time after the long and 
bloody sectional war prompted, a platform was adopted. It 
declared that the war just closed has maintained the authority of 
the constitution, and has preserved the Union, the equal rights, the 
dignity, and the authority of all the states, that perfect and unim- 
paired representation in congress, and in the electoral college, is 
a right abiding in, and a duty imposed upon every state, and that 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 201 

neither congress or the general government have any authority or 
power to deny the right to any state ; that congress has no power 
over the elective franchise; but that right belongs exclusively to 
each state ; and that no state has the right to withdraw from the 
Union. That on all constitutional amendments, all states have 
an equal right to vote. That slavery is abolished forever. The 
national debt is sacred and inviolable, and the Confederate debt 
is invalid; and it recognizes the services of federal soldiers as an 
obligation of the nation to them and their widows and orphans. 
And it endorses President Johnson for his steadfast devotion to 
the constitution, laws, and interest of the country. 
An address concluding as follows was issued : 

"We call upon you in every congressional district of every state 
to secure the election of members, who, whatever other differ- 
ences may characterize their political actions, will unite in repre- 
senting the right of every state of the Union to representation in 
congress, and who will admit to seats in either branch, every 
loyal representative from any state in alliance with the govern- 
ment. These may be found in each house in the exercise of the 
powers conferred upon it by the constitution. When' this shall 
have been done the government will have been restored to its in- 
tegrity, and the constitution will have been established in its full 
supremacy, and our Union will have again become what it was 
designed to be by those who framed it ; a sovereign nation com- 
posed of separate states, each like the government, having a dis- 
tinct and independent sphere, exercising powers denned and se- 
cured by a common constitution, and resting upon the assent, 
confidence and co-operation of all the people subject to its au- 
thority. Thus reorganized and restored to their constitutional re- 
lations, the states and general government can again with a com- 
mon purpose and a common interest enter upon the enjoyment 
of the return of personal rights and popular liberty which our re- 
publican institutions demand." 

The address of the convention recited that "10,000,000 Ameri- 
cans who live in the South, would be unworthy of citizenship of 
a free country, degenerate sons of an heroic ancestry, unfit ever 
to become guardians to the rights and liberties bequeathed to us 
by the founders of the republic, if they could accept with uncom- 
plaining submission, the conditions sought to be imposed upon 

202 Mississippi Historical Society. 

-A committee headed by Senator Reverdy Johnson, of Mary- 
land, was appointed to proceed to Washington and present the 
convention proceedings to the President. This ceremony at- 
tracted a large crowd. Gen. Grant sat beside the president 
while Senator Johnson was speaking and his attendance was 
interpreted as a token of sympathy in the movement. The 
president responded feelingly and at length, closing with the 
expression of "the hope and trust that his future action would 
cause no regret for the indorsement given him by a convention 
emanating spontaneously from the heart of the masses of the 
people." The convention resolutions and address, and the 
president's response to the committee, constituted such an. ap- 
peal to the country that, if in its sober senses, would have car- 
ried resistless force. But a storm of political intolerance and 
sectional antipathy had burst over the North, sweeping all op- 
position out of its path. The declaration of principles and 
rights which no man of today questions as sound and consti- 
tutional, only served as fuel for further inflaming sentiment 
against the president and the southern people. It is further- 
more to be admitted that the closely following appeals by 
President Johnson for popular support of his policy, in a series 
of speeches at the chief cities between the ocean and the river, 
was used with deadly effect against him. After New York and 
Philadelphia greetings, President Johnson was made painfully 
aware that a feeling of intolerant opposition had been built up 
in his path. At Cleveland he was literally hooted from the 
stage. The following is the Associated Press account of the 
shameful incident : 

General Meredith introduced the President, who was received 
with a few groans, huzzas for Johnson, cries for General Grant, 
and some rude remarks. He said : 

Fellow-Citizens : [Cries for Grant.] It is not my intention 
[Cries of "stop," "go on," etc.] to make a long speech. If you 
give me your attention for five minutes, [cries of "go on," "stop," 
"no, no, we want nothing to do with traitors ! Grant ! Grant !" 
"Johnson," and groans.] I would like to say to this crowd here 
tonight, [cries of "shut up! we don't want to hear you," "John- 
son," "Grant," "Johnson," "Grant," "Grant!"]. 

The President paused a moment, and retired from the balcony. 


Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 203 

At Cincinnati, besides being hooted and jeered by the crowd, 
the City Council placed the indignity upon the President of re- 
fusing to extend to him and his party, which included Gen. 
Grant, Admiral Farragut, Secretary Seward and other cabinet 
members, the city hospitality. This discourtesy was resented 
by Gen. Grant as told in the following press account: 

Cincinnati, Sept. 13. — General Grant visited Wood's Theater 
last night, and was enthusiastically received. Being informed 
that a crowd, among whom were many soldiers, was parading 
before the theater, and wished to see him, he replied: "I cannot 
and will not see them. Tell the commander of the soldiers to 
come and see me." Baker, the commander, and others, marched 
into the private box. Grant approached them and said : "Sir, I 
am no politician ; the President is my commander-in-chief; I con- 
sider this demonstration in opposition to the President of the 
United States, Andrew Johnson. You will take your men away. 
I am greatly annoyed at this demonstration. 

The following is from the Associated Press account of the 
humiliating event: 

Several disturbances occurred, with lamentable results. Pis- 
tol shots were fired, by which one man was wounded in the eye, 
and another in the knee. 

According to the best information attainable, a marshal was 
seen riding along the line of torch-lights and evidently giving 
directions, as the men soon thereafter stretched out their ranks. 
Persons were seen with clubs knocking down several of the 
transparencies, one of which bore the inscription, "Johnson, wel- 
come to the President." The holder of this transparency was 
thrown down and a shot fired at him. A friend came to his as- 
sistance, and fired at his assailant. At least a dozen or more 
shots were fired in quick succession. 

The result is that one was shot and severely wounded. 

At Indianapolis a like scene was enacted — the President be- 
ing howled down at the beginning of his speech, and driven to 
his rooms amid the execrations of the multitude. To a delega- 
tion that called to honor him, Gen. Grant said : "Gentlemen, I 
am ashamed of you. Go home and be ashamed of yourselves." 
Other distinguished members of the party joined in rebuking 
these hoodlum exhibitions. Such light on the realities of the 

204 Mississippi Historical Society. 

subject matter is ignored by partisan history writers. They 
have been so false to principle as to seek to obscure the shame 
of a disgraceful episode by writing into their histories question- 
able stories of the President's intoxication ; that were emphatically 
and circumstantially denied. 

Blaine and Rhodes represent him as having provoked the 
jeers and insults of crowds, which in fact included many who had 
evidently gathered to deny him the right of a respectful hear- 
ing. Unbecoming and undignified retorts wiiich he was goaded 
into making are set down without giving their provocation, 
which would have tried the self control of a more patient man 
than Andrew Johnson, whose pride was that he always re- 
turned blow for blow. The worst of it all was the reception he 
met cast the shadow of defeat over the dial of future events. 
* The convention of the radicals or loyalists as it was more 
commonly designated, was held in Philadelphia. It was opened 
Sept. 2nd, and continued throughout the week. It is lauded in 
Blaine's history as "A representative body of true, Union men." 
But its character and quality is better revealed in the record 
of its proceedings which are quoted from below. It was 
opened with prayer by a Philadelphia clergyman which is 
quoted : "O grant that we may do right at this time though 
the Heavens fall. Deliver us from the rule of bad men, espe- 
cially from him, who, through satanic agency has been raised 
to authority over us, and who abusing that authority is not only 
endangering the life of our Republic, but our personal liberty. 
Great God, interpose, and in making bare thine arm for ven- 
geance, save us from his infamous and ruinous policy, and from 
bad counsels of bad men that surround him. And we beseech 
thee to discover to the American people the base hypocrisy of 
that body that seeks to sustain him." 

Senator Wilson of Massachusetts, played upon the passions 
of the country as follows : "Now according to the acts of An- 
drew Johnson these things were all true and what ought they 
to do with him?" (A voice, "Hang him with Jeff Davis.") 
"What are you going to do with him?" (A voice) — "Hang 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 205 

Senator Chandler of Michigan spoke as follows: "The ob- 
stacle that is now in the way, the people will remove in a very- 
short time. What is Andrew Johnson's policy? Andrew 
Johnson has no more right to a policy than my horse has. 
William H. Seward is today a traitor at heart to the. United 
States government. Andrew Johnson once said that treason 
was a crime and that treason should be made odious and trait- 
ors should be punished. If Andrew Johnson does not stop he 
will ascertain that treason is a crime and that traitors shall be 
punished, and treason made odious." 

General B. F. Butler contended that "by their rebellion, the 
southern people had forfeited their property, their rights and 
their lives, if rebels were hanged, which unfortunately, he said, 
they were not. If this state of things cannot be altered, we 
will march once more and woe to him who opposes us. If I 
am asked how long I will keep these men out of the Union, I 
say keep them out until the Heavens melt with fervent heat, 
and if it should not come in this generation we will swear our 
sons to keep them out." 

Governor Brownlow of Tennessee said: "I want to have 
something to say about the direction of your forces the next 
time. They will as they ought to do make the entire Southern 
confederacy as God found the earth, 'without form and void.' 
They will not and ought not leave a rebel fence rail, outhouse or 
dwelling in the eleven seceding states. And as for the rebel pop- 
ulation, let them be exterminated. I would divide your army 
into three grand divisions. Let the first go armed and equipped 
as the laws of the army require. Let it be the largest division and 
do the killing. Let the second division be armed with pine torches 
and spirits of turpentine, and let them do the burning. Let the 
third and last division be armed with surveyor's compasses and 
chains, and we will survey the land and settle it with men who 
have honored this glorious banner." This demoniac speech — 
from the man of whom Rhodes says in his history: "Parson 
Brownlow, now governor of Tennessee, is a fair representative of 
the better Southern element concerned in the movement," — was 
received with "great applause." 

206 Mississippi Historical Society. 

The convention resisted the demand of Southern delegates for 
a negro suffrage declaration. This was not only on account of 
the solid opposition of the border state delegations, but because it 
had been decided by the leaders in congress ; that while voters 
would be gained in the pending election of congressmen, <by hold- 
ing back the negro suffrage issue, nothing would be risked by 
trusting it to congress. Led by Brownlow of Tennessee, Warmoth 
of Louisiana, and Hamilton of Texas, those who favored action by 
the convention were forced to be content with a declaration by 
Southern delegates in its favor. 

The convention adopted an address which according to his- 
torian Blaine "was in style and tone beyond praise; it was re- 
ceived with great applause by the convention, was adopted in 
unanimity and created a profound influence upon the public opin- 
ion of the north. It was a deliberate, well considered and clearly 
stated opinion of thoughtful and responsible men, was never dis- 
proved, was practically unanswered, and its serious accusations 
were in effect admitted by the South." 

This grossly mendacious summary of a bitter and false indict- 
ment of the South was worthy of the man who was recognized 
as the most gifted and audacious party leader of his day ; and who 
left behind him a record the most deeply streaked with falsehood 
and graft. One of the premises or arguments of the address 
Blaine so lauded, by which the "tone and style" of the whole may 
be justly judged, is quoted: 

"After declaring that none but the loyal should govern the re- 
constructed South, he has practiced upon the maxim that none 
but traitors shall rule. He has removed the proved and trusted 
patriot from office and selected the unqualified and cursed traitor." 

"While he refused to prosecute one single conspicuous traitor, 
though great numbers have earned the death penalty, more than 
one thousand heroic Union soldiers have been murdered in cold 
blood since the surrender of Lee, and in no case have their assas- 
sins been brought to justice. He has pardoned some of the worst 
rebel criminals, North and South, including some who have taken 
human life under circumstances of unparalleled atrocity." 

Rhodes says in explanation of this frightful charge, "these 
(murdered soldiers) were for the most part negroes." He and 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 207 

every other man who had informed himself on this period of his- 
tory, knew they were, for by far "the most part/* lies. Their sole 
basis of truth were the Memphis and New Orleans riots. Blaine 
states that "before the adjournment of congress more than 
a thousand negroes and many white unionists had been murdered 
in the South without even the slightest attempt at prosecuting the 
murderers. Though the aggregate of victims was so great, they 
were scattered over so vast a territory that it was difficult to im- 
press the Northern mind with the real magnitude of the slaughter. 
But this incredulity vanished in a moment when the nation was 
startled two days after the adjournment of congress by a massa- 
cre at New Orleans which had not the pretense of justification or 
even provocation." This thousand murder libel is crossed by the 
contents of the army and the freedmen's bureau reports cover- 
ing the months after Lee's surrender, which contained nothing 
whatever in substantiation of the malicious and mischievous fic- 
tion which Blaine and Rhodes have written in history. The vigor 
and zeal with which the perpetrators of lesser crimes than mur- 
der were hunted down by the military, compels the rejection of 
the implication that they overlooked the arrest and punishment of 
murderers. Practically the whole session of congress was de- 
voted to partisan and prejudicial assault upon the South. But 
no member, not even Stevens nor Sumner, Boutwell nor Blaine, 
echoed or authorized the charge of a reign of murder. Proving 
more conclusive and convincing' of the falsity of allegations of a 
murder epidemic, is to be read in the report of the reconstruction 
committee. ' That document is threaded throughout by the de- 
liberate, unconcealed and malign purpose, of blasting and black- 
ening the standing and good name of the Southern people. To 
that end the committee gathered witnesses from the highways 
and by ways, without regard for their reputations, for truth and 
veracity or honest living, for working out a conviction of the 
South. This volume of testimony includes the reports of General 
Thomas, Sheridan and others, commanding Southern departments 
and posts. The two generals named, exercised neither sympathy 
nor favor for the people over whom they ruled. They were ever 
ready to enforce harsh and arbitrary measures against "disloyal" 

208 Mississippi Historical Society. 

offenders. There was no section so remote in the states included 
in their departments — Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Ar- 
kansas, Louisiana and Texas — that they would not have ordered 
troops into, for the apprehension of murderers of Union soldiers 
or negroes ; and of any civil officers who made "not the slightest 
attempt at their prosecution." Yet neither the reports of Gen- 
erals Sheridan and Thomas, or of their testimony before the re- 
construction committee, referred to or hint at such condition of 
violence and bloodshed as Blaine and Rhodes accept and adopt in 
their histories. 

The records cited convict the two, and especially Blaine, of 
the blackest of all crimes against the spirit of history — wilful and 
malicious falsification. 
. Mr. Blaine suggests the key to this fiction. It grew out of the 
New Orleans "massacre" — its sole basis and grain of truth. The 
effect of the exaggerated and distorted accounts of that tragedy, 
which "startled the nation," presented a field of political oppor- 
tunity which was thenceforth worked in every campaign for the 
next quarter of a century. 

A radical correspondent of the Boston Commonwealth went 
into ecstacies over the uses of the New Orleans riot : 

"The barbarism in New Orleans is a 'timely affair.' This is 
the sentiment of all I meet, who are not copperheadish. The col- 
ored people think the same. When the news reached us one gen- 
tleman said it was worth ten thousand votes to the party of prog- 

. Thereafter, with the conference of the suffrage upon the ne- 
groes — the Pandora box and incubator of curses and crimes un- 
numbered — which forced the white people of the South to resort 
to methods the most evil and demoralizing for defense of their 
homes and of their civilization, there were riots and frays which 
were by no means bloodless. But in 18G6 the South was unvexed 
by race politics, and there was substantial peace throughout the 

This was the first campaign which was run by the Southern out- 
rage mill. It was the most cruel and abominable wrong done the 
South. That in the midst of unnumbered afflictions, while at the 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 209 

lowest ebb of her fortunes, the South was for political ends and 
in sheer diabolical hate, pilloried abroad as reeking with murder 
and violence beyond all semblance of truth. The inflow of capi- 
tal and immigration so sorely needed was thus checked, not to be 
recovered for near a score of years. All efforts, and there were 
many, at correction or refutation of the tale of blood — which was 
contradicted indeed by the concurrent official bureau and army re- 
ports, were vain. 
The following sample is taken from the Vicksburg Herald: 

The Bradford Reporter, published at Towanda, Pennsylvania, 
has the following : 

"A private letter to General Howard, dated Vicksburg, Miss.. 
August 3, says : Freedmen murders are nothing now. At least 
thirty have been killed during the past six weeks in this county. 
Within the past 24 hours one Union Southerner and two North- 
ern men have complained to me that they have come to town be- 
cause they dare not remain longer on their places, near Edward's 

Why don't these fellows give their names ? Respectable North- 
erners ought not to be liable to the suspicion of writing such stuff, 
and we would like to be able to give the names of such scamps as 
the author of the above. 

The following letter published in the St. Louis Republican, is 
one of a thousand corrections to the like purport: 

Vicksburg, Sept. 2, 186G. 
Editor St. Louis Republican: — I ; have noticed in the paper? 
lately a couple of paragraphs purporting to be news from Vicks- 
burg, and said to originate in the New York Tribune, one stating 
that a planter had whipped three negro women to death, and shot 
the husband of one of them; and the other that there had been 
thirty negroes killed lately within a period of six weeks, and that 
Northern men were not safe. Will you permit an ex-officer of the 
Union army, a resident of Vicksburg, to occupy a small portion 
of your columns, to bear witness to the falsehood of these state- 
ments ? They are made out of whole cloth, without any foundation 
whatever. If there has been one negro killed by an employer in 
this neighborhood during the last few months, I have not heard 
of it, though I have made considerable inquiries concerning it 
since we got this news from the North. The last statement is as 
false as the rest. There is a large number of Northern men, geii- 

210 Mississippi Historical Society. 

erally ex-officers, raising cotton here, and all in perfect confidence 
and safety ; and I have not even heard of a threat against a Union 
man. I have a slight interest in a plantation myself, and know 
the truth of this from association with Northern planters. And 
this is remarkable, when it is considered that some of these ex-offi- 
cers were once provost marshals, &c, in this same locality, and, 
as every one knows, were sometimes overbearing and not always 
strictly honest. 

If all the reports of outrages in the South, which we read in 
radical papers, have no better foundation than these, the radical 
party has very little bona fide capital to work upon and must be- 
come bankrupt shortly." 

But the trade was one in which no bona fide capital was called 

for. President Johnson, to satisfy himself of conditions in the 

South, delegated Gen. Gordon Granger, U. S. A., to go through 

this section and report to him. That report, dated August 24th, 

•i 1866, is quoted from : 

That in all the states I visted I found no sign or symptom of 
organized disloyalty to the general government. I found the 
people taking our currency, and glad to get it ; anxious for North- 
ern capital and Northern labor to develop resources of their 
wasted country, and well disposed towards every Northern man 
who came among them with that object in view. 

In some localities I heard rumors of secret organizations point- 
ing to a renewal of the rebellion. On investigating these secret 
societies I could discover in them nothing more than charitable in- 
stitutions, having for their principal object the relief of the wid- 
ows and orphans of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in the 

During the whole of my travels I found it to be as safe and as 
convenient to mingle with the people of the South, freely discuss- 
ing any and every topic that came up, as in any other section of 
the United States. I was often among them unknown, and the 
tenor of their acts and conversation was then the same as when 
my name and official position were thoroughly understood. 

That cases of authentic outrage have occurred in the South is 
patent to every one familiar with the current news of the day. 
But these cases are few and far between, and it is both ungener- 
ous and unjust to charge the responsibility for such acts of law- 
lessness upon the whole Southern people. For some malicious 
purposes accounts of these isolated disorders have been collected 
and grouped together and sown broadcast over the North so as to 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 211 

give the public mind an utterly erroneous impression as to the 
condition of Southern society. 

In prosecuting this inquiry I hardly deemed it fair to ask more 
than what had been the actions of the people of the South towards 
the general government. With their private opinions, their sym- 
pathies and their prejudices .'I had nothing to do. Yet for a more 
thorough 'understanding of the question, I made it part of my 
mission to investigate even these. 

But whilst the Southern people are thus loyal, and have fulfilled 
all the requirements asked of them by the federal government, it 
is impossible to disguise the fact, and the better class of citizens 
do not attempt to disguise it, that there is among them a deep feel- 
ing and a strong apprehension as to the cause of their long-con- 
tinued exclusion from congress. They believe that is part of a 
set plan for perpetuating the existence of the political party now 
in the ascendant, and that the question of suffrage, re-adjustment 
of representation and taxation are but excuses for still longer de- 
lay, thus regardless of the great interests, not only of the suffer- 
ing South, but of the whole country, burdened with debts and 
laboring under severe embarrassment. 

Had a policy of wise and statesmanlike conciliation been fol- 
lowed out immediately after the close of the war, it is more than 
probable that the condition and disposition of the people would 
now be far better than they are. But on the subjugation of the 
South, the national authority in the late rebellious states was di- 
vided and broken up into opposing factions, whose actions greatly 
hindered the re-establishment of civil law and good order, so 
much needed among a people demoralized by the most demoraliz- 
ing of all agencies — civil war. The country was flooded with 
treasury agents who, with their accomplices and imitators, fleeced 
the people right and left, returning into the United States treas- 
ury for all the enormous amount of property they seized and con- 
fiscated barely enough to pay the cost of confiscation. Agents 
of the Freedmen's Bureau stepped between the planter and the 
laborer, stirring up strife, perpetuating antagonism, and often add- 
ing their quota of extortion and oppression. On every hand the 
people saw themselves robbed and wronged by agents and self- 
appointed agents professing to act under the sanction of the 
United States government. Need it be wondered at that among 
a community thus dealt with, powerless to resist and too weak and 
prostrated for successful complaint, some bitterness and ill-feel- 
ing should arise? None but a brave and well-meaning people 
could have endured unresistingly all that the South has under- 

1 * r »*"%v 

212 Mississippi Historical Society. 

The testimony of this report and others of officers of the army 
though ignored and contradicted hy Northern historians, is con- 
firmed by all the chronicles and records of the period. October 
31st, Gen. Thomas J. Wood, as state freedman's bureau commis- 
sioner, made a lengthy report to Gen. O. O. Howard, chief bureau 
commissioner, covering the previous year, which is quoted from 
as follows: 

General : — In compliance with your directions of October 2nd, 
I have the honor to submit an exhibit of the business of the bu- 
reau in Mississippi for the year ending this date, in the form of 
the manner by you requested. 

The state is divided into eight districts, and to each district a 
number of counties proportioned to the facilities for reaching the 
more interior posts assigned. In charge of each of these districts 
are two or more officers, according to the number of counties 
and general condition of the district. The property on Davis or 
Palmyra bend is also under charge of an officer. Each of the 
senior officers in charge of these districts is denominated sub- 
commissioner, and each is required to make ar written report of 
his business monthly. 

The duties performed by officers are (the office hours being es- 
tablished) to keep themselves well informed on the following 
points, viz. : 

1st — Number of freedmen under charge. 

2nd— Condition and manner in which they are being treated 
and being paid. 

3rd — Kind of contracts and whether the freedmen understand 
the force of their obligations. 

4thi — Whether any sick, old, or infirm are suffering want of 
clothing, food or medical attention, and to have them in such cases 
transferred to the regular bureau hospitals for care and treat- 

5th — How many schools are in session and how many have 
opened ; what their condition is ; and what can be done for their 

6th — Disposition of the white people to the black. 

7th — The manner in which the state laws, affecting the freed- 
men, are administered. 

Officers are required to use every means to make known to 
all their districts the nature of their duties, and to this end are 
directed to put themselves in communication with prominent citi- 
zens of either color, and with the state and other officials resident 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 213 

within their districts. They must obtain the confidence of both 
the white and colored citizens, that the white citizens may know- 
that the bureau officer is to labor faithfully to instill into the 
colored man's mind the necessity of obeying the laws, and to 
seek to improve himself by education and by faithful and honest 
labor ; that the interests of all classes are coincident ; that the col- 
ored citizen has a friend and counsellor in the bureau officer, anx- 
ious to secure all to him which will add to his comfort and happi- 
ness, and to secure to him through the courts all his rights of 
person and property as a citizen. 

fci* * * * * * 

The difficulties in the way of performance of the duties of the 
officers of the bureau are much increased by the existence of cer- 
tain state statutes which affect the freed people alone and which 
are unjust and oppressive. (See the statutes prohibiting the 
freed people to carry arms, to have or purchase land in the coun- 
try, and the statute requiring them to contract for the year before 
the 10th day of January of each year, or obtain license to do job 
work.) It is true that these statutes are nullified by the civil rights 
bill, but as long as the prejudices of the white people are pro- 
tected and encouraged by formal statutes of state legislation, it 
will 'be impossible to obtain a thorough enforcement of the civil 
rights bill, intended for the especial protection of the freed peo- 
ple. The efforts to overcome these difficulties have been strong 
and increasing and an improvement is manifest. The higher au- 
thorities of the state, executive and judical, are doing what even 
one year since was thought impossible by the most sanguine, wit- 
ness the decision of the several judicial officers herewith enclosed ; 
and this animus is finding its way down to the lower courts slowly 
to 'be sure, but with that power by which great principles are 

* * * . * * * 

The observance of these (labor) contracts has in some cases 
been evaded by the dishonest contractor upon the miserable subter- 
fuge that the employe has failed to comply with the terms of his 
agreement, and the most frivolous mistakes of the freedmen have 
been alleged as such failures, but the majority of the employes 
have strictly abided by their contracts. The freed people have 
generally endeavored to perform their labor in a manner which 
would justify the assertion that they have been faithful to their 
labor promises. The observance of these contracts by all parties 
has been much the same as would have been in any community 
under like circumstances. * * * It is suggested that they be 
advised, not required, to continue the contract system by entering 

214 Mississippi Historical Society. 

into written contracts in duplicate ; the freed people will then have 
at all times in their possession the evidence of their claims against 
their employers and which can be used to enforce their rights in 
the courts of the state. 

As it has been applied, the results of the free labor system are 
favorable. Although there has been a failure of p crops, no blame 
as attached to the freedmen. The unfavorable season and the 
worm have worked the ruin. The rains of the early season re- 
tarded growth until the grass had choked the young plants and 
what was cleared was burned by the too long summer drouth. 
The worm appearing in the month of September completed the 
desolation and now the small yield will hardly purchase food suf- 
ficient to last until December 31st. The desire to raise cotton 
triumphed over all consideration of caution — the cultivation of 
cereals was neglected and the little cultivated was nearly all de- 
stroyed by the extreme heat of summer. All the bread stuff 
grown in Mississippi will not more than subsist the people until 
January 1st, prox. All general reports show the freedmen as in- 
dustrious as could possibly have been expected. 

The novelty and strangeness of their relations have not worn 
off even yet, but the idea that freedom means release from labor 
has quite disappeared." 

It is needless to say that had there been in fact any such epi- 
demic in the South of assassinations and outrages which the radi- 
cal leaders imposed on the Northern voting majorities, the con- 
dition reported by General Wood would have been impossible. 
One further exhibit in contradiction of the witnesses who have 
testified falsely of Southern conditions of the times — of a state 
of lawlessness, disloyalty and oppression of the negro such as to 
call for the reconstruction laws so soon to be passed — is cited. 
The following is from Gen. Grant's report of Dec. 1, I860, to con- 
gress : 

"Passing from civil war of the magnitude of that in which the 
United States has been engaged to government, through the 
courts, it has been deemed necessary to keep a military force in all 
the lately rebellious states, to insure the execution of law, and to 
protect life and property against the acts of those, who, as yet, 
will acknowledge no law but force. This class has proven to be 
much smaller than could have been expected after such a conflict. 
It has, however, been sufficiently formidable to justify the course 
which has been pursued. On the whole, the condition of the 


Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 215 

states that were in rebellion against the government may be re- 
garded as good enough to warrant the hope that but a short time 
will intervene before the bulk of troops now occupying them can 
be sent to our growing territories, where they are so much 

The condition which warranted Gen. Grant's hope was blasted 
utterly, by congress itself. And not until the Northern majorities 
reacted against the radical policy and its monstrous harvest of 
wrong and crime, more than ten years after its report, were the 
troops, occupying the Southern states, withdrawn. 

To return to the narrative of the campaign in the North. A 
convention of Union soldiers and sailors favorable to the Presi- 
dent, was called at Cleveland, Ohio, September 17th, by near a 
hundred generals. It was quite largely attended. Resolutions 
were adopted declaring that "the object of the soldiers in taking 
up arms was to suppress the late rebellion, defend and maintain 
the supremacy of the constitution and to preserve the Union in 
all its dignity and the rights of the several states unimpaired, and 
not 'for any purpose of conquest." The most memorable inci- 
dent of the convention was a letter from the Rev. Henry Ward 
Beecher, the most eloquent pulpit orator of his day, and recog- 
nized as one of the most powerful abolition leaders. He strongly 
arraigned the refusal of congress to admit the congressmen of the 
South. Inspired by prophetic and patriotic foresight, he said 
that "for its salutary effect the restoration of the states to their 
natural relationship, would have been worth more than to have 
marched over them with a dozen armies. The federal govern- 
ment is unfit to exercise minor police and local government, and 
will inevitably blunder when it attempts to keep a half score of 
states under federal authority but without national ties or respon- 
sibilities. To oblige the central government to govern half the 
territory of the Union by civil federal officers and others by the 
army, is a policy not only uncongenial to our ideas and principles, 
but pre-eminently dangerous to the spirit of our government. 
However humane the end sought and the motive, it is in fact a 
course of instruction preparing our government to be despotic, 
and familiarizing the people with a stretch of authority wiiich can 

216 Mississippi Historical Society. 

never be otherwise than dangerous to liberty * * * If 
Southern society is calmed, settled and occupied, and soothed with 
new hopes and prosperous industries, riot will subside, no armies 
will be needed. And a way will gradually be opened up to the 
freedmen to full citizenship with all its privileges and duties. No 
one can escape that forty years in the wilderness who travel from 
the Egypt of ignorance to the Promised Land of intelligence. 
Negroes must take their chances. If they have the stamina to 
survive the task which every uncivilized people have had to un- 
dergo, they will in due time find their place among us. That will 
come through sobriety, virtue, industry and frugality." Such 
counsel from one who had raised high the torch that lit the flames 
of war and emancipation, would have exerted a profound influ- 
ence had men's minds not been carried far from the anchorage of 
reason. It was now a vain crying in the wilderness, and Beecher 
'found himself marooned like Wra. H. Seward and other one-time 
abolition leaders. Mr. Seward had, on a previous occasion, thus 
uttered the view now voiced by Mr. Beecher: /The North has 
nothing to do with the negroes. They are not of our race. They 
will find their place. They must take their level. The law of po- 
litical economy will determine their position, and the relations of 
the two races. Congress cannot contravene those laws." Eman- 
cipation effected and the Union restored, he held that the ends of 
the war had been fulfilled and the South entitled to resume her 
normal relations in the Union. 

The last and largest of the conventions preceding the elections 
in this most memorable and fateful year was held at Pittsburgh, 
Sept. 25th, and called for "the citizens, soldiers and sailors." It 
was designed as a reply and rebuke to the Cleveland gathering of 
the week before. In numbers and aggressiveness it far exceeded 
the gathering that had gone before. Inflamed as sentiment had 
been the President's appeal for approval of his course and justice 
for the South was worse than cast away. It fell on deaf, unsym- 
pathetic and even hostile ears. It is enough to say of the char- 
acter and temper of the meeting that one of its leaders and the 
chairman of the committee on resolutions, was General B. F. But- 
ler, commonly known as the "beast," the most despicable figure 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 217 

of his time. General Butler had emerged from the war under 
the brand of brutality and cowardice, and with a large fortune 
of plunder, amassed through the authority and the opportunities 
of his command. He was detested and despised by Grant, Sherman 
and every other officer prominent in the conduct of the war. He 
had been removed from active service in disgrace. But the day 
of his restoration to popular favor had come. No other title to 
political preferment was required than the talent and the will for 
inciting the Northern people against the President and the South. 
In that field Butler was pre-eminent. The convention resolution 
charged that the President's reconstruction plan had "converted 
confirmed rebels into impudent claimants of rights which they 
have desecrated — if consummated it would render the nation's 
sacrifice useless, the loss of buried comrades vain, and the glorious 
triumph of the war a failure." As described by Blaine, "the con- 
vention was in a tempest of anger" — anger that was fanned to 
consuming heat by the speeches of the occasion. In the proceed- 
ings and resolutions of the twenty-five thousand Union soldiers 
composing this convention, there is no corroboration of the pleas- 
ing traditions of friendly and sympathetic feeling in those who 
wore the blue, for conquered foes. While the Associated Press 
story called Beast Butler "the lion of the convention," the fol- 
lowing letter from Gen. Grant got but scant courtesy : 

Headquarters Armies of the U. S. 

Washington, Sept. 18, 1866. 
L. Edwin Dudley, Esq., Chairman Executive Committee Soldiers' 
and Sailors' Union : 
Sir: — General Grant desires me to acknowledge the receipt of 
your invitation to be present at a national convention of soldiers 
and sailors, to be held at Pittsburgh, Pa., September 25, 1866, for 
political purposes. He instructs me to say that it is contrary to 
his habit and to his conviction of duty, to attend political meetings 
of any character whatever, and that he sees with regret the action 
of any officer of the army taking a conspicuous part in the politi- 
cal dissensions of the day. 

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

Adam Badeau, 
Col. and A. D. C. 

218 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Few words are required for noting the results of the election 
which was recorded in a decisive Republican victory — the Presi- 
dent was condemned, congress sustained and the South doomed. 
This caused little surprise. The forecast of the signs and symp- 
toms, spreading gloomy forebodings over the South, was too plain 
to be misread. The day before the October elections held <by 
New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and other large states, the Vicks- 
burg Herald said : 

The elections in several of the great Northern states take 
place today, and the certainty of the triumph of the most extreme 
radical views is almost as positive as an established fact. We may 
hope for the best, but the triumph of the President's policy, in the 
present condition of the Northern mind, would be scarcely less 
than a miracle. It is painful to record these facts, but they must 
sooner or later become apparent. 

The radical use of this victory was outlined in no uncertain 
terms through the press. The Chicago Tribune, one of the most 
partisan of the radical organs, said : "In the first place congress 
should assert its whole right to adjust this question by setting 
aside the illegal governments put in operation by the President. 
In the second place, it should make those odious by asserting the 
full power of the government over the life, the property and the 
franchises of the traitors, and over the very territory of the insur- 
rectionary states, which have forfeited their rights under the con- 
stitution." This declaration of what congress should do was ac- 
companied by a plan of procedure — "constitutional conventions" 
should be called by act of congress in the "insurrectionary states," 
to proclaim negro suffrage and assert the rights of the negroes to 
vote by force if necessary. 

Prior to the 18GG election, it had been a question if Thad Stev- 
ens and the extremists of a year before would prevail. That 
issue had been settled. Before the election came off many of the 
leaders had "agreed to pretend" as the New York Independent 
counseled, that the 14th amendment was a finality. With the an- 
nouncement of the result of the election, the pretence disappeared. 

Though the poor show of the President's party may seem 
strange, the explanation is simple. All of the aggressiveness, the 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 219 

unity and efficiency of organization of the campaign was with the 
Republicans. In the camp of the President dissension and dis- 
couragement prevailed. There was little active sympathy for the 
distress and hard state of the South at this period. And what lit- 
tle there was, the vindictive intensity of the Republican leaders 
quelled. The opposition that was to be expected from conserva- 
tism to radicalism was greatly minimized by the disrelish of its 
elements, Democrats, Whigs, Conservative Republicans, to each 
other. How deep such antagonism cut into the administration 
alignment is indicated in the following — antagonism upon dif- 
ferences which now forgotten or unknown, were potent enough 
in 1866 to keep thousands from the polls lest in opposing a radi- 
calism they abhorred, they should give aid and comfort to those 
they detested. 

(Private) New York, July 14th, 1866. 

My dear sir. 

You know the extreme repugnance, which the barnburners of 
this state have to Mr. Seward, a repugnance which I doubt if it 
is possible to overcome. If the President had reorganized his cab- 
inet a year ago, he would have stood on impregnable ground. As 
it is, our friends distrust every movement, in which Mr. Seward 
appears to bear a leading part. They know, that between his pol- 
icy & the true democratic policy, there is an impassable gulf. 
They know, moreover, that, apart from policy, he has in his in- 
terest, and as his tools, the worst, most profligate men this state 
ever saw, with whom they will have nothing to do. 

In talking with our people about the Phila. convention, I am 
met with this objection: it is a Seward & Weed concern; or, 
Seward and Weed are getting it up ; or, if we go into it, we shall 
have to bear all the odium of those names whether they actually 
control the movement or not. 

Now, my dear sir, what answer can be given to these objec- 
tions? Is Seward to be a fixture in this administration? If he 
be, then I think it impossible to draw to its support the democratic 
element in the republican party: — no matter who may attempt it. 

When I last conversed with you, I explained my views very 
fully. I have the same still. The President should rely: 1 — 
Upon the democratic element in the party, which elected him. that 
is to say, upon that element, which follows mainly the political 
opinions of Jefferson, Jackson, Tompkins, Wright, & Wadsworth. 
2 — Upon such portion of the democratic party, falsely so called, 

220 Mississippi Historical Society. 

as was loyal during the war, & will now unite with us. In this 
way, and in this only, as I think, can the President lay a founda- 
tion on which he can stand & defy attacks from all quarters. 

Please let me hear from you ; I should be glad also, to know, 
how Mr. Blair regards the present position of affairs. I knew 
how he felt last winter. 

Very truly yours, 

David Dudley Field. 
Hon. J. R. Doolittle. 

A connected relation of its political fruits is essential in writing 
the history of 1866, the year in which birth and shape were given 
to reconstruction; when the chain was forged that shackled the 
South for so many years. This has necessitated leaving behind 
the concurrent course of home industrial affairs, which is now 
taken up. The season was an adverse one almost from the be- 
ginning — one in which disappointed expectation and blasted hopes 
swelled in widespread disaster. In it was crowded economic ca- 
lamities and misfortunes beyond all that had gone before or that 
came after. And at no other time was there ever suCh vital need 
for fortune's favors. At the start the transition from slavery to 
free labor was as favorable as could be expected in reason. Lands 
were prepared and crops planted reasonably well and in good time. 
There came on, however, that worst of all visitations for the cot- 
ton fields an excessive and almost daily precipitation which lasted 
well through the cultivating season. This extended all over and 
beyond the state. It was attended by the worst epidemic of char- 
bon ever known which carried off thousands of mules in the river 
country. The following is taken from the Vicksburg Herald: 

The valley was afflicted besides with a cholera epidemic. 
Spreading from the eastern cities it reached the lower river cities 
and towns in August, and prevailed throughout September. In 
Vicksburg there were near 200 deaths, including a dozen or more 
soldiers of the garrison. On some plantations it raged with espe- 
cial violence. The Natchez Democrat noted the death of 40 ne- 
groes from cholera on the Hoover plantation, below that city. It 
was equally deadly in Memphis, Nashville and New Orleans. A 
Memphis press dispatch announced 13 cholera deaths August 
29th. "How many," it said, "have occurred among the negroes 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 221 

huddled in South Memphis, it is impossible to ascertain." The 
following is quoted from the New Orleans Picayune: "A pesti- 
lence sweeps through the land. The cholera has taken a more 
sudden and tenacious hold upon our vitals in less time than it has 
done anywhere else in the new world. Its advent has been re- 
ported at different points for months past, and yet we venture to 
assert that it never disseminated itself half as fast, nor have its 
ravages proved as bad in any community, considering the short 
space of time during which it has existed here." 

A marked decline in prices carried cotton far below the calcu- 
lations under which the cost of the growing crop was predicated. 

This was caused by the appearance of a great deal more cotton 
grown during the war than was estimated.. That disappointment 
was accentuated by a United States revenue tax of three cents a 
pound, when it had been hoped that the tax which had been fixed 
at two cents during the war would be repealed. A state tax of 
two dollars a bale was levied because there was no other reliable 
source of revenue except land which was, in the impoverished 
state of the country, carrying a heavy burden. A letter denounc- 
ing the federal cotton tax published in the Cincinnati Enquirer is 
quoted to show how this tax was regarded : "This account has 
been given not only as showing the lack of statesmanship which 
is cutting down the tree to get at the fruit, but also for the pur- 
pose of calling the attention of the Northwest, through the col- 
umns of the Enquirer, to the manner in which this villainous im- 
position on a people already afflicted by Providential dispensa- 
tions, will militate against the interest of that section. Alarmed 
at this dismal prospect, planters all over the state who had put al- 
most their every acre into cotton, and relied on purchasing their 
breadstuff's and meat from the West, are beginning to plow up 
the sickly, and, if healthy now, almost worthless, cotton, and plant 
corn in its stead. 

Under the head of "plowing up cotton," the Coahomian echoed 
the distressing story of discouragement and despair. The article 
is quoted from as follows : "We are informed by letters from 
both Tunica and Bolivar counties, and orally by citizens of this 
county, that there have been several meetings held by the plant- 

222 Mississippi Historical Society. 

ers, at which it was resolved to plow up all the cotton in the least 
damaged, and plant in the stead corn, potatoes, and other neces- 
saries of life — it being their opinion that it is cheaper than raising 
cotton, with three cents a pound tax and then buying those articles 
from the North and West." 

The gloomy picture was amplified in The Mississippian, pub- 
lished at Jackson, of August 1st. That paper said: 

The Mississippian says it has embraced every opportunity of- 
fered to ascertain from planters throughout the state the condi- 
tion of the cotton crop. From information received from various 
reliable sources, and from different parts of the state, we write it 
down as a settled thing that not more than one-fourth of a crop 
will be made, if that. 

With all these adverse happenings it was not strange that there 
was despondency on plantations attended by relaxation of effort 
among the negroes. This caused friction with the planters 
which had been avoided while there was promise of a, successful 
year. Misled by mischief-making malcontents, General Wood 
issued the following misguided order : 

Headquarters Department of Mississippi, 

Vicksburg, Miss., Aug. 16, 1866. 

Information has been received at these headquarters, that, in 
various parts of the state, parties engaged in planting, since the 
termination of the active work of making the crops, are discharg- 
ing the freed people whom they had hired for the year, without 
settling fully with them for their previous labor. But if full re- 
muneration were paid to the freed people for their previous labor, 
it would be gross injustice to drive them away from the planta- 
tions, after they had made their arrangements for the year, and 
when they must necessarily be subjected to much privation and 
suffering by being thus suddenly deprived of a home and support. 

But the foregoing does not describe the worst form in which 
this outrage and injustce on the rights of the freed people is re- 
ported as being practised. The majority of these cases in which 
this outrage is being committed is where the freed people have 
been employed to work on shares or for a stipulated part of the 
crop ; where the freed people have been employed to work for a 
part of the crop, to discharge them from a service and drive them 
from their homes on the plantations, is simply robbery. Such 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 223 

iniquity must excite in the minds of all honest men, indignation 
at the offense, and abhorrence of the guilty perpetrators of it. 

It is believed that only a comparatively small portion of the 
community can be guilty of practising such an enormity, and the 
honest and fair dealing men are invoked to frown down and sup- 
press the perpetration of it. 

It requires little foresight to predict that if the freed people are 
treated in this way, and robbed of the fruits of their labor, they 
can no longer be depended on to supply the physical force neces- 
sary to cultivate the soil — a result whose direful effects cannot be 
overestimated. The commission of such outrages on the rights 
of the freed people will not be permitted in this department, and 
in such portions of the state as it may be reported to occur, a mil- 
itary force will be stationed to prevent it. 

By order of 

Major General Th. J. Wood, 
Marcus P. Bestow, 
Ass't Adj't Gen. 

As soon as the general was made aware that the information 
upon which he had proceeded was necessarily and absurdly erro- 
neous — that with a backward and grassy crop and the planting 
season at hand, no planter would drive off labor — he authorized 
the following publication in The Vicksburg Herald: 

"We are authorized by General Wood to state that no portion 
of the order is intended to refer to negroes who have not com- 
plied with their contracts. On the contrary, he thinks that where 
they refuse to work, they should be made to leave ; and should 
planters be unable to make them quit their places, the assistance 
of the military authorities will be cheerfully rendered ; just as on 
the other hand, the Military will be used to protect the negroes, 
when they are in the right, if the civil authorities fail to do so." 

In truth many of the negroes ran away from their crops be- 
cause they saw little promise of fruits of their labor. They 
moved into the town in search of transient jobs or rations from 
Freedman's bureau. A letter in the Herald which had helped en- 
lighten General Wood as to the facts of the situation is quoted : 

The fact is, in many cases, the f reedmen, instead of illustrating 
the principle that has been claimed by some "philanthropists," for 
all human beings, that freedom and wages arc sufficient incen- 
tive to industry and application, have become so indolent, as to 

224 Mississippi Historical Society. 

require admonition and even threats, that if they did not go to 
work as their contracts require, they must leave. And it is prob- 
able that having already drawn the equivalent of their stipulated 
wages, they packed up and left, and reported to some "profes- 
sional friend" that they were discharged without pay. 

Again, in many cases, planters have difficulty in persuading 
them to stay to gather the fruits of their labors, and have to of- 
fer extra wages ; and yet they have failed, on account of the de- 
sire of the freedmen to change location — and I have no doubt 
many such freedmen come into Vicksburg and other cities, and 
represent themselves as abused and wronged, for they could not 
secure sympathy and shelter without such statements. 

Harkening to complaints of the demoralizing effects of "free 
rations" Gen. O. O. Howard addressed the following communi- 
cation to the Secretary of War : 

War Department, 
Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, 

Washington, August 17th/ 1866. 

Hon. E. M. Stanton, Sec'y of War: 

Sir : In view of the fact that charges are constantly made by 
a large number of prominent citizens in the South and elsewhere 
that persons are fed by the Bureau in idleness, and in considera- 
tion of the statements made by Inspector Generals Steadman and 
Fullerton, implying that the people who labor for support are 
rendered idle by the promise or hope of rations from the Gov- 
ernment, and ■ further considering that the crops are sufficiently 
matured already to prevent actual starvation, I recommend that 
on and after the first day of September next, the issue of rations 
be stopped, except to the sick and regularly organized hospitals, 
and to the Orphans' Asylum for refugees and freedmen already 
existing, and that the State officials who may be responsible for 
the poor be carefully notified of this order, so that they may as- 
sume the charge of such indigent refugees and freedmen as may 
not be embraced in the above exceptions. 
Very respectfully, 
Your ob't serv't, 

O. O. Howard, 
Maj. Gen. and Com'rir. 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 225 

Approved, to take effect on the first of October. 

E. M. Stanton, 
August 23d, 1866. Secretary of War. 

Circular No. 10. 

In accordance with the instructions of the Secretary of War, it 
is ordered that, on and after the first day of October next, the is- 
sue of rations be discontinued, except to the sick in regularly or- 
ganized hospitals, and to the orphan asylum for refugees and 
freedmen, already existing, and that the State officials, who may 
be responsible for the care of the poor, be carefully notified of 
this order, so that they may assume the charge of such indigent 
refugees and freedmen as are not embraced in the above excep- 

There is no record that this order located the case of any "indi- 
gent refugees or freedmen" upon the state, or that there was any 
suffering from the shut down of the bureau camps. Their in- 
mates simply and naturally drifted back to the plantation quar- 
ters, where they found self sustaining and easy work, enforcing 
the belief that it would have been better on all accounts^ had the 
bureau never extended its activities to the care of the indigent 
and helpless. 

The crowning economic disaster came through a visitation of 
the caterpillar, or army worm. While there were appearances of 
this pest the previous year, they were more destructive in 1866 
than ever before or since. The following is reproduced from the 
Woodville Republican, of September 15th : 

Within the last week, causes involving a heavy calamity, have 
•been most diligently at work; and the cotton crop is ruined ir- 
retrievably. The past two weeks' rain have destroyed the last 
hope of anything like a crop ; scarcely a field that is not being 
foraged utterly out by the armies of worms, that have, at length, 
appeared in all their destructiveness. A few days more and not 
a leaf of cotton can be seen, while the bolls that are left and are 
ready to open, are seized with the rot, thus destroying that which 
would have .been exempt from the worms, from its advanced 
stage. New Orleans supply merchants need not think this is a 
fancy or sensational sketch. 

We conversed with planters from every section of the county, 
at the meeting on last Tuesday, and it was the same tale from 

226 Mississippi Historical Society. 

every neighborhood. Planters will generally no more than clear 

Indeed where there is one who will make enough to pay off 
old debts, there will be one whose present crop will not pay for 
the outlay of this year. 

To return to the 3-cent cotton tax law — which was approved 
and took the place of the pre-existing statute placing the rate of 
tax at :2 cents a pound, July 13th, to go into effect August 1st. 
Oppressive as the law was in itself, it was made infinitely more 
so by the regulations promulgated for assessing and collecting 
the tax. As an instrument to harass and plunder their victims, 
it was successful beyond the calculations of the architects of this 
refinement of cruelty. A section of the regulations of the Treas- 
ury Department is quoted: 

All persons engaged in producing or dealing in cotton, or in 
the transportation of the same, will specially note that section 5 
of the act of July 13, 1866, renders it unlawful, from and after 
the 1st of September, 1866, for the owner, master, super-cargo, 
agent, or other person having charge of any vessel, or for any 
railroad or other transportation company, or for any common 
carrier or other person, to convey or attempt to convey, or trans- 
port any cotton, the growth or produce of the United States, 
from any point in the district in which it shall have been pro- 
duced, unless each bale or package thereof shall have attached 
to or accompanying it the proper marks or evidence of the pay- 
ment of the revenue tax, and a permit of the collector for such 
removal, or the permit of the assessor as hereinbefore provided, 
or to convey or transport any cotton from any State in which 
cotton is produced, to any port or place in the United States, with- 
out the certificate of the collector of internal revenue of the dis- 
trict from which it was brought that the tax has been paid there- 
on, or the permit of the assessor, as hereinbefore provided; and 
such certificate and evidence must be furnished to the collector 
of the district to which it is transported, and his permit obtained 
before landing, discharging, or delivering such cotton at the place 
to which it is transported. 

This section carried severe penalties for violations of its pro- 

With the law enacted at the beginning of the picking and ship- 
ping period there was delay in framing these rules and regula- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 227 

tions. There was also dilatoriness in the appointment of the 
county assessors, collectors and weighers. Thus the shipment of 
the crop was tied up tight until over a month of the shipping 
season was past. These county officials, when appointed, were 
given absolute and arbitrary power within their spheres 'of work. 
At their discretion they could require cotton to be weighed, the 
tax assessed, paid and certified on the respective plantations or 
farms, or transported to some designated point at their will and 
convenience. Their fees and expense account to be deducted 
from the cotton with the tax before it could be removed out of 
the county, were fixed at more than liberal rates. The follow- 
ing notice indicates the method and its hardship of requiring 
growers to bring to a single point all the cotton raised in large 

Internal Revenue Northern District. — The following 
places, among others, have been designated in the Northern dis- 
trict, where an Assessor or Assistant Assessor, and a Collector 
or Deputy Collector, will be located on the days respectively, 
for the purpose of weighing and appropriately marking, under 
the Internal Revenue laws, any cotton which may be brought to 
those places where the same was produced in the District, viz. : 

Beulah, Bolivar county, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. 

Friar's Point, Coahoma county, Tuesday, Thursday and Satur- 

McNutt, Sunflower county, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. 

Charleston, Tallahatchie county, Tuesday, Thursday, and Sat- 

McNutt, Sunflower county, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. 

The following letter from a passenger on the way from Mem- 
phis to Vicksburg to The Vicksburg Herald, of Sept. 26th, be- 
sides telling of the ravages of the cotton worm, explained the in- 
cidental hardships and iniquities of the cotton tax. 

"I regret exceedingly to state that the ravages of the army 
worm has swept and is sweeping over the fairest and most prom- 
ising sections of the river country between Memphis and Vicks- 
burg. Your correspondent saw cotton stalks brought on board 
covered with worms and entirely stript of leaves, and from the 
representations of the planters throughout the Deer Creek coun- 
try and around Grand Lake, Lake Providence and neighboring 

228 Mississippi Historical Society. 

localities, we may say in as many words, the crop thus affected is 
reduced at least one-third by the army worm, over and above all 
other disadvantages. 

The cotton fields in the localities referred to are said to be with- 
out a green leaf, and look as if they had been swept over by fire. 
These statements on the part of farmers are doubtless true, and 
bode, as I fear, trying times ahead. Cotton, in my opinion, will- 
advance in price, apportioned to its scarcity, and thus in a meas- 
ure relieve those who have risked their all in its culture at this 
time. The chief trouble at present . encounterd by planters and 
steamboatmen, is the inability to ship their cotton from the plan- 
tations along the river, there being no agent to make the proper 
assessment of taxes, the prepayment of which is necessary be- 
fore the cotton is moved. 

Out of the many piles of cotton we saw along the river, we did 
not hear one single planter say he had the right or power to ship 
a bale without running the risk of losing his cotton by the ever 
watchful law. Much trouble is anticipated in these respects. 
Notwithstanding all these things, the people seem as if disposed 
to look misfortune in the face with a hopeful smile. With such 
a people there can be no such word as fail ; profiting by the sad 
lessons of the past, they can but triumph in the end. As you are 
no doubt aware, it is the imperious duty of each newspaper in the 
Mississippi Valley to force upon the proper authorities the imme- 
diate appointment of the proper assessors at all shipping locali- 
ties along the river, in order that the cotton producing interest 
may escape the ruinous operations of one of fanaticism's most ru- 
inous laws." 

To extricate the cotton planting interests from the ruinous 
operations of a ruinous law, a meeting was held in New Or- 
leans Sept. 11th, by cotton factors and others interested in cot- 
ton raising. A memorial was addressed to the secretary of the 
treasury in which it was stated that the "regulations concern- 
ing the weighing and marking of cotton, the assessment and 
collection of the tax and the removal of cotton under bond," 
prescribed in Series 2, No. 5, from the Treasury Department, 
Office of Internal Revenue, under date 'Washington, July 31, 
1866,' are exceedingly onerous on the planter and the mer- 
chant, and are, in the opinion of your memorialists, not well 
adapted to protect the interests of the Government. We, there- 
fore, respectfully suggest such modifications of these regula- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 229 

tions as will, in our opinion, tend to relieve the planter and the 
merchant from the embarrassments attending the existing reg- 
ulations, without operating adversely to the interests of the 
Government, and at the same time in harmony with the spirit 
of existing laws." 

The onerous regulations were specified, with particular rec- 
ommendations of changes that would, while affording the de- 
sired relief, not "operate adversely to the government." A 
committee was appointed to proceed to Washington and urge 
the adoption of these recommendations upon the secretary of 
the treasury. But redress was not forthcoming. The authors 
of the law for wringing tribute from the conquered and im- 
poverished people, had done their work too well, making it im- 
mune to executive alterations. The result of the vain appeal 
is indicated in the following : 

Washington, Oct. 4, 1866. 
Joseph Denegre, Sec'y, New Orleans, La. : 

Dear Sir — We have at last brought our mission to an end, but 
by no means a satisfactory one to ourselves or those we represent, 
as will appear from the inclosed decision of the attorney general 
of the United States, which we beg leave to hand you for publi- 
cation ; to which we have nothing to add, except that the Presi- 
dent and heads of departments, with whom we have had free in- 
tercourse previous to our memorial being submitted to the attor- 
ney general, seemed sincerely to regret their legal inability to 
grant the relief we petitioned for. 

The most that could be hoped was that congress would be 
forced to recognize the flagrancy and the iniquity of the hard- 
ships imposed by this tax upon the productive power of the 
South. It was calculated that if the radical heart was obdurate 
against rebels, it would relent under the consciousness that the 
punishment imposed reached the freedmen as well. The influ- 
ence of the Northern commercial and manufacturing interests 
were also counted on for repeal. At a meeting of the New 
York Chamber of Commerce, a report was presented -and 
adopted in favor of the total and immediate repeal of the tax 
of three cents a pound on cotton. The committee making the 
report was instructed to prepare a memorial to Congress set- 

230 Mississippi Historical Society. 

ting forth the injustice and impolicy of the tax. Commenting on 
the action of the Chamber, the World says : 

"At present, there is no branch of the national industry so much 
depressed as cotton culture. Instead of crippling it by govern- 
mental obstacles, it is our interest to take off every burden and 
give full play to the natural elasticity of recuperation. The West 
needs it as much as the South ; for the South stands to the West 
in the position of a great natural market. More hands can be 
employed, and consequently more mouths require to be fed, by 
the cotton culture than by all the manufactures of the Eastern 
and Middle States. It is a branch of industry which, if not ar- 
tificially obstructed, can never be broken down by a rival commod- 
ity; it ranks as one of the most solid, reliable, and commanding 
of all our national resources. To thrive, and enable the country 
to thrive with it and by it, it requires no protection, no bounties, 
no government handling ; it only asks an open field, fair play, and 
to be let alone." 

An election was held for county officers, judges and district 
attorneys, October 2nd, throughout the state. Members of the 
legislature had been elected the year before. The choice of 
officials for their home government was orderly and uneventful, 
though attended by active local interest. A large proportion 
of the persons chosen were ex-Confederate soldiers, many be- 
ing cripples. 

Under the stress of fate's hard decree, the people were turned 
to a session of the legislature. No particular means of relief 
was perceived or proposed — nothing tangible that the legisla- 
ture could do all to alleviate prevailing economic distress. It was 
merely vaguely hoped that the legislature might do something 
— that there might be wisdom in the multitude of counsellors. 
The following resolutions of a public meeting in Carroll county 
voiced the general sentiment ; responding to which Governor 
Humphreys, on Sept. 15th, issued a call for the legislature to 
meet, October 15th: 

Resolved, That the Governor be memorialized to convene the 
Legislature at an early day to devise means for the protection of 
the country from pecuniary ruin which now threatens it. 

On motion it was resolved that a committee of three be ap- 
pointed to memorialize the Governor in accordance with the reso- 
lution offered. 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 231 

At this inauspicious time, as officially required, Gov. Hum- 
phreys made another call upon persons so bound, for redemp- 
tion of unredeemed cotton bonds, about two and a half mil- 
lions. His proclamation, dated September 25, 1866, after re- 
citing the history of the case, closed as follows : 

Now, therefore, I, Benj. G. Humphreys, Governor of the State 
of Mississippi, by virtue of the authority vested in me, by the 
constitution and laws of said State, and the duties imposed on me 
by said Act, require all persons to whom advances may have been 
made, under said act, to come forward and pay the same, either 
in gold or silver, or said Treasury Notes, within thirty days from 
the date of this proclamation, or suit will be instituted on said 

The Governor's message to the legislature is quoted from 
freely, as a vivid picture of the troubled and most momentous 
period of history, a true revelation of the vexed and perplexing 
questions and issues that tried the souls and darkened the minds 
of the people of the war generation. 

Executive Office, 
Jackson, Miss., Oct. 16, 1866. 
To the Senate and House of Representatives: 

The necessities of the State constrained me to convene you in 
extra session. No special emergency, but a general exigency, re- 
sulting from the altered and deranged condition of our Federal 
Relations and domestic affairs, at the termination of the late civil 
war, which, in the nature of things, could not be fully adjusted 
and provided for at your first session, demands now your fur- 
ther consideration and attention. 

The removal of the negro troops from the limits of the State, 
and the transfer of the Freedmen's Bureau to the administration 
and control of the officers of the Regular Army now commanding 
the white troops in the District of Mississippi, are subjects of con- 
gratulation to you and to the country. The white race is thus re- 
lieved from the insults, irritations and spoliation to which they 
were so often subjected, and the black race from that demorali- 
zation which rendered them averse to habits of honesty industry, 
and which was fast sinking them in habits of idleness, pauperism 
and crime. Both races are now settling down in business life 
and cultivating those sentiments of mutual friendship and confi- 
dence so essential to the prosperity and happiness of both. 

232 Mississippi Historical Society. » 

Beyond these congratulations there is but little in the political 
horizon to cheer the patriot or excite the hopes of our citizens. 
That small cloud of fanaticism that rose in the East, at first no 
larger than a man's hand, and spread with such irresistible fury, 
overthrowing constitutional barriers and destroying the rights 
andjproperty of a portion of the States of the Union, still over- 
shadows our land with all its portentous blackness. Our Sena- 
tors and Representatives to Congress are yet refused their seats. 
The Radical Congress has enacted laws and proposed amend- 
ments to the Constitution, which if adopted will destroy the rights 
of the States and of the people, and centralize all the powers of 
government in the Federal Head. Against this threatening cloud 
of ruin the President has interposed the Executive power of the 
Government, and has thus drawn upon his devoted head all its 

fury and vengeance. 

*'* * * * *i# * 

The result of the fierce struggle between the President and 
Congress, time alone can reveal. In the adjustment of what they 
term ''plans of reconstruction of the Union," the South can have 
no voice, and can only submit to the power that controls her. As 
the Chief Magistrate of the State I have sedulously avoided all 
collision with Federal power and have yielded obedient acquies- 
cence in every case of usurpation and wrong inflicted upon our 
citizens by Federal authority. — Our people are wearied of war, 
its desolation, its vandalism. They have returned to their alle- 
giance to the Constitution of the United States. They now seek 
for peace, its quiet and security by submission to its power. 
They have nobly met and heroically performed their duties and 
responsibilities to Constitutional liberty, and proudly conscious 
of rectitude, they transmit to posterity and to history the record 
of the past without a blush of contrition or dishonor. 

Though our voice cannot be heard, nor our rights respected in 
the adjustment of our Federal Relations, many questions present 
themselves for our consideration and action as citizens of the 
state that may effect our condition as citizens in the Union. 
Prominent among them is the amendment proposed by Congress 
as number XIV, which, at the request of the honorable Secretary 
of State, William H. Seward, I herewith report for your action. 
This amendment, adopted by a Congress of less than three- 
fourths of the States of the Union, in palpable violation of the 
rights of more than one-fourth of the States, is such an insulting 
outrage and denial of the equal rights of so many of our worth- 
iest citizens who shed lustre and glory upon our section and our 
race, both in the forum and in the field, such a gross usurpation 
of the rights of the State, and such a centralization of power in 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 233 

the Federal Government, that I presume a mere reading of it will 
cause its rejection by you. 

The Civil Rights Bill passed by Congress at its recent sessions 
conflicts directly with many of our State laws, passed in pursu- 
ance of the amendment to the State Constitution emancipating 
the slaves of the State and requiring the Legislature "to guard 
them and the State, from the evils that may arise from their sud- 
den emancipation/ ' and has been a fruitful source of disturbance. 

Immediately after your adjournment in December, 1865, I ap- 
pointed Hon. Wm. Yerger of Hinds county, and Hon. J. M. Acker 
of Monroe county, Commissioners to visit Washington City, and 
lay these laws before the President and to request him to indicate 
which of them the military authorities in the State would be al- 
lowed to nullify. 

The President, in his reply, gave them full assurance that none 
of them should be nullified except by the Civil Courts of the land. 
No violent collision has yet occurred between the State and Fed- 
eral authorities, and I fear none so long as the military District 
of Mississippi is under the administration of the present distin- 
guished military commander, who has, in the settlement of the 
many delicate questions that have arisen, shown so just a senti- 
ment toward our State and people. Thus far, all questions that 
could not be otherwise adjusted have been submitted to the judi- 
cial tribunals of the country, and are now undergoing, judicial in- 
vestigation. While the Civil Rights Bill cannot be received as 
a rule for your guidance, the interests of the w T hite race will be 
subserved by the relaxation of the rigidity of our laws, which in 
order to guard society against threatening evils, was rendered nec- 
essary. Public justice to both races demand the admission of ne- 
gro testimony in all cases brought before the civil and criminal 
Courts. And now that the negro has shown a confiding and 
friendly disposition toward the white race, and a desire to engage 
in the pursuits of honest labor, justice and honor demands this of 

Governor Humphreys discussed at length the tangled and 
harassing question of a law staying, or extending the time of col- 
lection of private deeds : 

As the executive, I claim no authority to decide who is the 
worthy and who is the unworthy creditor — and I do not know how 
to average and divide the losses all have sustained. I feel no or- 
dinary personal interest in the postponement of the day of pay- 

234 Mississippi Historical Society. 

merit. My sympathies have ever been enlisted in behalf of the 
helpless and the needy. My heart's love is entwined around the 
brave Confederate soldierly chords that cannot be severed ; and I 
would divide with him the last crumb that belonged to myself — 
but I must confess my want of wisdom to devise the scheme that 
will absolve him or relieve his property from the obligations of his 
contract with others, without their consent, so long as there is vir- 
tue, power and majesty in the constitution under which he lives. 
Any scheme, however, that may be devised for the permanent or 
temporary relief of the people from the pressing embarrassments 
of our great disasters, that is clearly within the restrictions of my 
obligation -to the constitution, will receive my cordial co-operation. 

But my faith is not in "stay laws." Temporary relief from 
debt often tends only to additional embarrassments. Patient in- 
dustry, strict economy and "long suffering" are now our destiny 
and our duty, and the only means of restoring our lost fortunes 
and re-establishing our prosperity and happiness. 

May Almighty God whose chastening hand manifests his love, 
inspire us all with wisdom, and guide us through the black night 
that shrowds our distracted country in gloom, despondency and 

The people were afflicted beyond legislative power to prescribe 
or cure. The healing touch of time alone could bring succor or 
healing — "vain was the help of man." The session only lasted 
two weeks when there was adjournment to the third Monday 
in January, 18G7. The relief of debtors by law which many had 
hoped and contended for in spite of failure of the effort to pro- 
vide such recourse the previous session, was again attempted. 
Both houses passed a bill entitled "An Act to regulate final pro- 
cess on judgments and decrees in certain cases." It was vetoed 
by Governor Humphreys as being in conflict with the provision 
of the Constitution forbidding laws impairing the obligation of 
contracts. The county court Act of the previous session and the 
school laws were changed materially. The state revenue law 
was amended in several particulars including a reduction of the 
cotton tax to a dollar a bale. The county of Lee was created. 
Such provision as an empty treasury permitted was made for 
maintaining the state institutions, the penitentiary, hospitals and 
humane asylum. The manufacturing equipment of the peniten- 
tiary having been destroyed by Union soldiers, by leaving the 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 235 

convicts a veritable white elephant for the state to care for, pro- 
vision was made for leasing them to private bidders — the begin- 
ning of a system that was operated for years and until its inci- 
dental abuses and scandals forced its abandonment. 

An Act was passed providing for the payment of debts con- 
tracted or assumed by the general board of levee commissioners 
which had been created by the Act of December, 1858, commonly 
called the liquidating levee Act. Local and private legislation 
and the amendment of laws of more or less importance made up 
a large part of the record of the session. 

While opposition to the 14th amendment was unanimous in 
the legislature and practically so among the people, action upon 
it was deferred. The position of the two senators at this crucial 
juncture is to be read in the following from the Vicksburg 

As prominence is again given to the letter of President John- 
son to the late Provisional Governor Sharkey, of this State, in 
which it is said the President urged the doctrine of "impartial 
suffrage," so-called, we feel authorized to state from a recent con- 
versation with Governor Sharkey, that he is utterly opposed to 
negro suffrage in any zvay it can be fixed, partial or impartial. 
He also believes that Congress has nothing to do with the sub- 
ject, and cannot legally touch it. It belongs exclusively to the 
States, each State acting for itself. 

Judge Sharkey and Gen. Alcorn. 

Mr. Editor: — I read' in the Herald, this morning, with great 
gratification, your brief editorial, announcing that Judge Sharkey 
is unalterably opposed to negro suffrage in any form. It would 
be equally gratifying to the people of Mississippi, to know that 
their other Senator, Gen. Alcorn, had also placed himself in op- 
position to this nefarious measure. Will you not draw the Gen- 
eral out on the subject of negro suffrage? It is a well known 
fact that last year he addressed a letter to a distinguished citizen 
of our State in which he boldly advocated that doctrine! — That 
letter is still in existence, and if the General will only express 
such a desire, I doubt not it can be obtained for publication. Will 
he do so? Will he oblige his constituents with his reasons for 
favoring negro suffrage? Or, if he has "changed his base," and 
is now opposed to the views of his friend Greeley in regard to 

236 Mississippi Historical Society. 

"impartial suffrage," he will perhaps not object to tell the people 
what has wrought this change ! 

If, however, no change has "come over the spirit of his 
dream" — if he is yet in favor of negro suffrage — perhaps self- 
respect may indicate to him that he is not a fit Representative of 
the people of Mississippi, and that a very ordinary regard for 
public opinion should induce him to resign a position he cannot 
hold without dishonoring himself and outraging the well known 
will of the people. 


Belle Isle, Nov. 22, 1866. 

In further proof of the friendly race relations prevailing at 
this time, and of the confidence reposed by Gen. Wood and the 
bureau department in the whites, the following is published : 

Headquarters District of Mississippi, Bureau Refu- 
gees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands. 
Office Asst. Commissioner For State of Mississippi, 

Vicksburg, Miss., Sept. 22, '66. 
Circular No. 14. 

With a view to obtaining, preserving, and publishing accurate 
information of the progress of the educational movement for the 
improvement of the colored people, the conductors of all schools 
not under the auspices of this Bureau, established for the instruc- 
tion of this class, whether founded by single individuals or char- 
itable institutions, are respectfully requested to furnish to the 
nearest sub-commissioner, for the purpose of its being forwarded 
to these Headquarters, a monthly report, &c, * * * 

Such managers of schools as comply with this request, will be 
furnished with blank forms on which to make their subsequent 
reports, with a view 'to facilitating the making of them, as well as 
to securing uniformity ; and such aid will be given to the schools 
so- reporting, by this Bureau, as the act of Congress establishing 
it will permit. 

By Order of Bvt. Maj. Gen. Th. J. Wood: 

A. W. Preston, 
Act. Asst. Adj't Gcn'L 

Office Asst. Commissioner for State of Mississippi, 

Vicksburg, Miss., Oct. 9th, '66. 
Circular No. 22 . 

It is hereby officially announced that the Reverend William K. 
Douglas, Protestant Episcopal Church, and late Superintend- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 237 

ent of public schools in the City of Natchez, has been employed 
by the Freedmen's Bureau to traverse this State to aid in the es- 
tablishment of schools for the education of the colored race. 

All military officers on duty in this State will give to Mr. Doug- 
las every proper facility in their power for the accomplishment 
of his work; and the citizens of the State generally, and espe- 
cially the State officials and the religious organizations of every 
sect and denomination, are most respectfully, yet most earnestly 
appealed to aid Mr. Douglas in achieving what it is confidently 
believed a little reflection will convince every good citizen is a de- 

By order of Bvt. Maj. Gen. Th. J. Wood: 

A. W. Preston, 
Act. Ass't Adj't Geril. 

This publication was received with such favor that Gen. Wood 
proposed and published a plan of co-operation between the bu- 
reau, of which he was now the state commissioner, and the citi- 
zens for a system of negro schools; of which there were already 
some taught by native whites. ' 

It was endorsed and urged by bishops and clergymen of the 
various denominations. For the localities to extend to the ne- 
gro children the advantages of a rudimentary education was rec- 
ognized in the line of both duty and policy — as a step toward re- 
lieving the state of a supervision of home affairs that was longed 
for by all. It is of the writer's personal knowledge that in Wil- 
kinson county negro schools with white teachers were established 
and in Woodville money was raised by private subscription for 
building a negro school house. 

Dr. C. K. Marshall was one of the most distinguished and elo- 
quent preachers of his day. He was a citizen as well of promi- 
nence and influence. The following passages from an address 
he published in The Vicksburg Herald Dec. 1st, which was 
widely circulated by Gen. Wood in the North, where the public 
mind was then being inflamed against the Southern people by 
lying and exaggerated stories of abuse of negroes, is quoted: 

Major General Wood, U. S. A., Ass't Commissioner Bureau 
Refugees, etc., the distinguished commander of this District, re- 
cently issued Order No. 17, dated Nov. 3d, offering certain facili- 

238 Mississippi Historical Society. 

ties and funds in aid of the schooling of colored children, which 
brings the matter directly to the attention of the citizens and peo- 
ple of this State at large. A communication addressed to me 
from an eminent citizen of New York connected with an associa- 
tion organized for the purpose of carrying out the same object, 
offers funds in aid of the same peculiar work. And besides, the 
idea which has suddenly seized upon the great mass of our for- 
mer slaves, that, in some way, their children are to be educated, 
and the anxiety many of them feel on the subject, united with 
many other considerations, lead me to answer all enquiries ad- 
dressed to me in this formal, and, I hope, excusable manner. 

The education of the Freedmen's children in the common 
branches of learning taught in our schools, is unquestionably a 
duty we owe alike to ourselves and to them. I am deeply and 
painfully impressed with the disabilities under which thousands 
of the poor white children of our commonwealth suffer for the 
want of schooling. Neither class should be overlooked. True 
philanthropy must clear its path of every obstacle in the way of 
its proper work, and move steadily forward in its accomplishment 
till all classes rejoice in the blessings of its mission. 

As citizens, and as Christians, our relations are' entirely ami- 
cable towards the freedmen. We understand them, if any people 
do, and all they are today, above their savage ancestors, they 
have 'been made by the white people of the South. It is due to 
you, therefore, in calling your attention to the new form of do- 
mestic care you are expected to bestow upon them, to recognize 
the great and matchless advantages they have derived heretofore 
from your guardianship. You are entitled to the commendation 
of the civilized and christian nationalities of the world for the 
share of services you have rendered to the millions of Africans 
who have inhabited this land. They were forced upon your sires 
by England and by New England, against their solemn and re- 
peated protests. They were then benighted heathens. They did 
not know the proper use of clothing, nor the correct methods of 
preparing and eating their food; nor did they like living in 
houses, or know the necessity for the free use of water. They 
were, in numerous instances, cannibals, and until recently, have 
been practicing their old ancestral habits ; while of the marriage 
duties and obligations, they had scarcely heard. Their minds 
were full of the grossest superstitions ; they were idol worship- 
pers, and were ruled and held in awe, by their conjurers, trick 
men, and fortune tellers. Their manners were repulsive; their 
habits filthy, disgusting, intolerable. Of God and the world's 
Redeemer, they knew nothing — they were literally ''without God 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 239 

and without hope in the world." Physically they were weak, and 
generally diminutive in stature; being untrained to systematic la- 
bor, the essential muscles for profitable toil were undeveloped. 
Their intellects were as dark as the rayless night that brooded, 
and still broods, over their native land. As a general truth they 
cared nothing for each other, were bound by none of the common 
ties of civilized men — were by nature, tradition, and habits, idle, 
thriftless, and improvident. They knew nothing of a coming 
morrow, and cared less. — They spoke innumerable dialects, or 
jabbered in the unintelligible gibberish of the hundred tribes, 
whose chiefs had rescued them from their shambles of sacrifice 
and death to sell to the English or American traders for glass 
beads, jewsharps, bogus jewelry, and New England rum. 

I now look upon these people, whom patriarch slavery has so 
educated, so elevated, so christianized in your hands, with amaze- 
ment and gratitude to God, and congratulate you upon having 
performed for them the greatest work of benevolence, educa- 
tional development, moral improvement, and religious culture, 
ever achieved on so grand a scale since men needed civilization. 
All the boasted missionary enterprises conducted by the United 
powers of Christendom in two hundred years past, pale and sink 
from a comparison with the vast and unparalleled blessings your 
labor has accomplished for them. 

Despite the ill-advised and passionate enactments of legislative 
bodies, stung almost to fury by the fanatical attempts of aboli- 
tionists to excite them to rebellion, insurrection, arson, and mur- 
der, thousands of them everywhere learned to read and write. 
And but for those insane interferences with your domestic af- 
fairs, they might long ago have had multitudes of schools estab- 
lished among them, and probably newspapers adapted to their ca- 
pacities, circulated on nearly all the plantations. Slow to learn, 
and dull of comprehension generally, they were nevertheless 
rising gradually in the scale of improvement as fast as their na- 
tures were capable of advancing. 

Christianity had won her converts among them by hundreds of 
thousands ; and their knowledge of the Bible, the catechism, and 
the obligations of religion, however imperfect, would shame the 
millions of Anglo-Saxons who struggle with vice and ignorance 
under the very shadow of monumental churches and world-re- 
nowned halls, where the profuse outlay of millions of dollars an- 
nually on schemes of foreign relief, sadly illustrate the mock be- 
nevolence which has little or no charity for the ''Greeks at the 

240 Mississippi Historical Society. 

The African slaves in the hands of masters have made greater 
improvement physiologically, mentally, and morally, and been 
raised higher above the level where the two races stood two hun- 
dred years ago, than has the Caucassian." 

No stronger statement of the merit of the South's side in the 
slavery issue has ever been made than that presented by the 
Rev. C. K. Marshall, from which the above is taken. Called 
forth by vindictive and indiscriminate charges against the 
Southern people, the seeds of truth it so eloquently cham- 
pioned fell upon unfruitful soil. Sprouting, they were withered 
by the scorching heat of sectionalism which had so blinded and 
warped Northern minds that they would see no good coming 
out of the Southern Nazareth. All testimony, however, evil and 
false was accepted, while all that was just and true was rejected. 
Mr. Marshall's claim of what the Southern slaveholders did In 
the elevation of the negro is the vital and eternal truth, never- 
theless. In the Almighty's final arbitrament, in the balancing 
of all accounts, it will be given its real value. Eaten up with 
zeal for the liberty of all men, for the "Terror's" slogan "equal- 
ity, liberty and fraternity," and appalled by visions of the enor- 
mity of the sin of holding men in slavery, Jefferson was troubled 
by visions of San Domingo. "I tremble," he said, "for my 
country when I think of the negro and know that God is just. 
* * * The Almighty has no attribute which can take sides 
with us in such a contest." The equality creed of the Father 
of Democracy, and a Virginian slaveholder, w r as adopted in the 
temple of abolition by the Lincolnites as their choicest justifi- 
cation for invading and spoiling the "land of bondage." Jef- 
ferson even supplied argument for the policy of confiscation, 
which was urged by Stevens and Ben Butler. "I submit," he 
wrote, "the problem for the master to solve, whether the slaves 
may not justifiably take a little from him who took all from 

That slavery was an inherent evil, no one can deny. But 
being "just" will not the Almighty balance the good against 
the bad? Is weighing the condition of the African in Africa — 
which is today what it was when Mr. Marshall wrote of it — 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 211 

with that of the millions of their American descendants, "phy- 
siologically, mentally and morally," at the time of their eman- 
cipation, cause for "trembling"? What was the "all the master 
took from the slave"? Not "liberty" — he was and his African 
tribesmen are today, in a ten times worse condition of bondage 
than befell the slaves of the hardest Southern slave owner. In 
all the world's history of slavery, Egyptian, Grecian, Roman, 
never did the yoke rest so lightly on slaves, we may say with 
absolute truth, as upon the negroes of the Southern states. 

There was no full test of Gen. Wood's plan of enlisting the 
favor of the former slave owners in the education of the former 
slaves. There can be no judgment of its merit, as it was too 
soon swept away by the surging waves of race distrust and an- 
tipathy raised by the ensuing radical policy. But in a subse- 
quent order Gen. Wood thus testified to the good spirit in 
w r hich the white people who were in industrial control of the 
thousands of negroes of the state received his well meant ac- 
tion : 

Tlie undersigned hereby expresses his thanks to the many 
planters who have assured him, that they will establish, during 
the coming year, plantation schools for the education of the chil- 
dren of their colored laborers, and make arrangements to have re- 
ligious instruction given to the whole ; and he hereby renews his 
recommendation and request to all planters to pursue the same 

As the time drew on for congress to meet, realization was 
forced on the Southern people of the meaning placed in the 
North upon an election result, recorded in the choice of a clear 
two-thirds radical majority in the house. More than this, the 
popular endorsement of the radical policy assured the leaders 
of an undivided following — that there would be no hesitancy 
or holding back in the vote of the Republican party member- 
ship for measures effacing the Southern states governments, 
with their reconstruction under martial law and negro suffrage. 
This was now perceived by the thoughtful and discerning to 
be inevitable. While the radicals were emboldened to push 
forward with their policy, the virility of the President's sup- 


242 Mississippi Historical Society. 

porters weakened and waned. In its issue of November 12th, 
the Chicago Times, the leading Democratic paper of the West, 
threw up the sponge. Its article is quoted from : 

What next? Can the Democratic party succeed until the 
negro question shall be gotten out of the way ? It can not ! 
What next? Is not negro suffrage inevitable, and is not the 
quickest way to get the negro question out of the way, to at once 
concede to the suffrage, making issue only on the degree to which 
it shall be conceded ? We know that many Democrats have not 
reached this advanced view of the case, and that such still feel 
greatly inclined to revolt at the proposition of negro suffrage in 
any degree, but let us tell them 'that it is always wise to accept 
the inevitable when the inevitable comes. Negro suffrage, we 
say, is inevitable, and whether it shall be qualified or universal 
depends upon the promptness or otherwise with which the Demo- 
cratic party shall move with reference to it. The South will 
speedily yield qualified negro suffrage upon the motion of the 
Democratic party; because if for no other reason she will soon 
see if she does not already see, that if she does not yield it she 
will be ultimately compelled to accept universal suffrage. But if 
the South be wise it will not wait on this suffrage question, even 
for the motion of the Democratic party. If it be wise, it will 
lose no time in putting in motion the necessary machinery by 
which will at the same time save itself from humiliation, preserve 
its own self-respect, rid the country of the most vexatious ques- 
tions that ever distracted any country, kill the worst political 
party that ever existed on the globe, and put the Union in 'the way 
of speedy restoration. This machinery consists, of course, in 
Conventions to revise the State Constitutions. 

The Herald and the Times, of New York, conservatives, co- 
incided with the Chicago Times in urging the South to ratify 
the 14th amendment, and thus secure admission to the Union. 
The Herald is quoted from: 

"The true policy, therefore, of the Northern Democrats is to 
urge the excluded Southern States to accept the Constitutional 
Amendment and come into Congress, so as to command the 
House of Representatives in the regular way. This is certainly 
the only policy of safety to the South, whatever may be the course 
henceforth of the Northern Democracy." 

The tone and the counsels of these papers simply meant that 
the Northern Democrats were beaten, and deadly tired of the 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 2i'S 

Southern burden. But after the election and the interpreta- 
tion of its meaning by the victors, there was no excuse for their 
assumption that adoption of the 14th amendment would open 
the door of congress to our senators and representatives — be 
accepted as a finality of reconstruction. Replying to their as- 
surances of readmission and restoration on that condition, the 
New York Independent took issue with them, as follows: "God 
forbid. No leading Republican in congress means to admit the 
ten seceding states simply on the adoption of that amendment. 
Negro suffrage is a sine qua non." The New York World, 
Democrat, entertained no such delusion as the other anti-Radi- 
cal papers quoted, pretended to. It said: 

"The Radical demand on the South is this: Reject the amend- 
ments and we keep you out of the Union. Adopt them and we 
do not let you in." Declaring that the appeal to the people had 
been lost — that "the passions of the war had not yet sufficiently 
subsided for them to judge with candor," it thus counseled the 
President and the South : "It was his duty to remonstrate, but, 
having appealed .to the people in vain, why should he sharpen 
acrimony by further action. The elections, by practically depriv- 
ing him of his veto, have relieved him of all responsibility for the 
actions of Congress. While he holds fast to his previous views, 
he will serve no purpose by an animated and aggressive presenta- 
tion of them: — Candid co-operation with Congress on neutral 
questions, and a dignified abstinence from pushing a controversy 
in which he is powerless, is the course which President Johnson 
will doubtless consider it wise to adopt." 

Looking forward to its permanent interests the South has far 
more to gain by preserving the Constitution in its entireness than 
by a minority representation in Congress. A Congressional mi- 
nority can carry no measure ; it can interpose no effectual protec- 
tion. The South even with an unreduced representation, would 
be powerless to prevent the passage of any law hostile to South- 
ern interests. The only protection remaining to minorities is the 
Constitution. It is vital to the preservation of their rights that 
the Constitution shall not become the sport of mere majorities to 
be moulded into any shape they please. Let the fatal precedent 
be set that a majority of the States may dictate amendments and 
control their adoption, and the last barrier is broken down against 
the oppression of minorities. We advise the Southern States not 
to relinquish their only remaining safeguard. 

244 Mississippi Historical Society. 

A reduced representation cannot prevent the passage of hos- 
tile laws ; but while the Constitution remains unaltered, such laws 
must be confined within their narrow limits, or the courts will 
set them aside. To exchange this solid advantage for a reduced 
and unavailing representation would be to perpetuate a great 
folly to enable a few ambitious men to draw salaries as members 
of Congress. Better no representation with the protection of the 
constitution, than no protection at all. A congressional minority 
is no obstacle to oppressive laws ; but, until the courts become cor- 
rupt, the unamended constitution is. 

If we might take it upon us to advise our southern fellow-citi- 
zens, we would counsel them to reject the proposed amendment ; 
to yield quiet obedience to all constitutional laws ; to maintain or- 
der ; to protect and encourage freedmen by equal laws, and to ab- 
stain as carefully from agitating questions of federal policies as 
if they had no concern in them. Their only hope of redress is in 
northern justice. When it becomes evident that they are deter- 
mined to await this with dignified reserve ; that they will neither 
humiliate themselves nor disturb the peace of the country; that 
they will furnish no food to agitation, but quietly demean them- 
selves as law-abiding citizens, and patiently await the result ; and 
that nothing will shake their resolution not to foe parties to their 
further humiliation, the radicals will be embarrassed and non- 
plussed. » | i i r * iJ •■■*) 

At this period and for many years afterward the most influ- 
ential and numerously read paper in the West was the Chicago 
Tribune. It was chief organ of the radical wing of the Repub- 
lican party, now supreme in prescribing the Southern policy 
and in legislation to carry it out. Its comment on the result of 
the election, published the day after its returns were known, was 
void of pretense and delusions. As it, was strictly fulfilled in 
the reconstruction laws of the ensuing session of congress, it is 
quoted as that which deserves a place in all history of the period: 

The recent elections have wonderfully cleared the political at- 
mosphere. They have pointed out a line of procedure which w r e 
hope to see promptly followed out in the coming session. In the 
first place Congress should assert its whole right to adjust these 
questions, by setting aside the illegal Governments now in exist- 
ence and put into operation by the President. 

In the second place, it should make treason odious by assert- 
ing the full power of the Government over the life, property and 

** S& Sti 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 245 

franchise of traitors, and over the very territory of insurrection- 
ary States, which, by persistent rebellion, have forfeited their 
rights under the Constitution; and by teaching the South that for 
whatever leniency they receive they are solely indebted to the 
mercy and forbearance of the Government, and can demand abso- 
lutely nothing as a right. It is not necessary to shed blood, or 
even to enforce confiscation, in order to assert and vindicate these 
principles so vital to the Republic. No less important has it be- 
come to proclaim the right of the loyal men of the South, with- 
out distinction of color, not only to the protection of equal laws, 
but to a participation in the elective franchise in the formation of 
new Governments. All this may be accomplished by calling 
elections for Constitutional Conventions in the various unrecon- 
structed States, and prescribing the qualifications of voters in 
such elections, as Congress has the undoubted right to do. All 
men of lawful age, white or black, should be invited to partici- 
pate in these elections, and their right to participate should be 
maintained by force if necessary. The delegates so chosen, meet- 
ing in convention, would form constitutions to be submitted to the 
people of their respective States for ratification or rejection, and 
these constitutions would, of course, fix the qualifications of the 
electors. Governments would be formed under these constitu- 
tions precisely as in other territories, and it would then be for con- 
gress to pass upon these governments and to recognize them if 
found to be republican in form. 

This plan of reconstruction will remove all difficulties that have 
heretofore stood in the way. It would prove speedy, safe and 
complete. It would be distasteful to the traitors and rebels ; but 
that is not a reason why great and necessary public measures 
should be postponed. It would place the power at once and per- 
manently in the hands of the majority of the people of the South, 
and render future secession and state insurrections impossible. 
It would stigmatize rebellion as a crime ; it would vindicate the 
power of the republic to save itself from dissolution; it would 
proclaim to the world that loyalty to the government is the path to 
promotion and power. , More than all, it would establish the gov- 
ernment on the solid basis of justice ; and thus the blood and treas- 
ure the nation has poured out in her conflict with rebellion, would 
be made available to the cause of freedom and civilization. That 
the power to adopt these measures resides with the representatives 
of the people, there can be no doubt. That the people would ap- 
prove and applaud the exercise of this power, was made apparent 
in the recent elections. 

246 Mississippi Historical Society. 

A leading Radical member of the House of Representatives, 
George S. Boutwell, of Massachusetts, in a lecture made the fol- 
lowing significant declaration : 

"All the interests of business are centered in the freedmen and 
elevation of these people. Coming next to a discussion of the 
policy which the fortieth congress should adopt, Mr Boutwell 
said two great ends must be brought about — first, universal suf- 
frage. One way of obtaining this was by holding the states as 
they now are until, by their own motion, they do justice to the col- 
ored people. ^Congress may abolish the governments of these 
states and establish territorial governments, and declare who shall 
and who -shall not vote. This is most likely the result to which 
the action of congress now tends — the destruction of these false 
governments, and the formation of constitutional governments/' 

Among the leaders of the South haters were those who looked 
even farther than bayonet rule and negro suffrage. Led by 
Stevens, Wade, Boutwell, Banks and Wendell Phillips, there was 
a hue and cry for impeachment of the President, a revolution in 
fact. In a speech, November 5th, General Ben Butler, in Bos- 
ton, had an "immense" audience. He reiterated his charges 
against the President and ridiculed the opinion that his impeach- 
ment would stir up anarchy and civil war. The Senate, he re- 
marked, could call upon the army and the militia, and its call 
would be promptly answered. No more disturbance would be 
created than would arise from the trial of a drunken sailor by 
a police judge. 

The year had opened under a cloud of unrest and despondency. 
Sorrow and affliction stalked through the land over which hung 
so heavily destruction and losses of war. Almost every man was 
weighed down by the mill stone of debt. Many were forced in- 
to bankruptcy. And now with the sands of the year almost run 
out, the burdens with which it opened were increased by crop dis- 
asters and the recognition that an unsympathetic and tyrannous 
southern policy was determined upon. The ominous future re- 
vealed in the light of the election returns was faced with a full 
apprehension of the hard fate the stored up revenges threatened. 
Some wavered and some migrated from the state, but the people 
generally almost unanimously awaited the forbidding future with 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 247 

resolute determination not to yield up or forsake right principles. 
The following" from The Woodville Republican of December 1st, 
voiced the sentiment which was lodged in the popular breast : 

"Let our demeanor be as it has been heretofore, calm and dig- 
nified. All our acts should be marked by moderation and reso- 
lution. We must not despair. We can still bide our time. Re- 
action, a political revolution, must come in time from some source. 
It is true that we are much cast down ; we can no longer entertain 
that confidence in the President's protecting power which so long 
upheld us ; we can no more, for the present, indulge a hope in pop- 
ular election, for a radical congress surely has the power of legis- 
lation for three years. This is discouraging but we have learned 
lessons of patience and endurance that we can certainly practice 
in these trying times. Let us not forget the four years, towering 
above the past, monuments commemorative of heroic deeds, with 
their proud memories, or the spirits who from another land look 
to, us for a preservation of those principles and of that reputation 
for patriotic fortitude which they died in maintaining.'' 

The Vicksburg Herald replied with bitter feeling, to the coun- 
sel of expediency and subservience; to the advice of Northern 
Democrats and conservatives that the South bow her neck to the 
Radical yoke: 

"The South is now asked to adopt a constitutional amendment 
as a pledge of future 'loyalty,' when it is unblushingly avowed 
that even then they do not intend to keep faith with us. One of 
the provisions of this amendment, forever excludes from office, 
every man in the South who had taken an oath to the United 
States government, and then resigned his office to aid his state 
and section. 

"The Democratic party cannot live, except by giving up a right 
policy, which has been unsuccessful, and adopting a policy which 
is 'wholly wrong,' but which has been triumphant Well, then, 
let the Democratic party die.. Let it sink to the lowest depths 
of perdition. Let mountains fall iipon it, and hide it forever 
from the gaze of men. Let every trace of remembrance of its 
former grandeur and power be obliterated. It cannot live but by 
becoming baser than its opponents. Then let it die and be buried. 
The truth is, the right policy was defeated in the North by the 
Democratic party and that cause alone. Had not party organ- 
ization and love of the loaves and fishes' controlled the Northern 
Democracy, there could have been union of conservatism against 

248 Mississippi Historical Society. 

radicalism, and the President's policy would have been sustained, 
and the country saved." 

As the day approached for congress to assemble the tensity of 
the situation grew. Public expectancy and excitement was kept 
at high pitch by reports and calls of meetings by the inflamma- 
tory utterances and editorials published in the organs of radical- 
ism. Forney's Chronicle, the mouthpiece of the Jacobin section, 
published a call which the National Intelligencer stated, "On in- 
formation from reliable sources looked to the establishment in 
the capitol en permanence of an organized force subject to the 
orders of Congress." It is reproduced as a true reflection of 
the desperate courses in contemplation. 

"Being profoundly impressed with the importance of the strug- 
gle through which the country is passing, and of the necessity of 
preserving the results gained by its triumphs in the field, and 
more recently at the polls, the undersigned, a committee appointed 
by the Soldiers' and Sailors' Union of Washington, D. C, do in 
their name earnestly invite their comrades, the loyal veterans of 
the republic, with all other friends of the great cause of Union 
and liberty, to meet in a national mass welcome and council to be 
held in this, the federal capital, on Saturday, December the 1st, 

"We ask your presence to honor and assure protection to the 
loyal majority in the thirty-ninth congress, in whom we recog- 
nize faithful guardians of our assailed institutions and able sup- 
porters of the principles involved. 

"Come in your might ! By your presence show how sternly 
loyalty can rebuke treason. Prove thereby that the threats and in- 
sults of a treacherous executive against the legislative branch of 
the government cannot intimidate a free people. Here in the 
federal capital, must our great struggle culminate in wise and 
equitable legislation. Here, then, should we assemble to encour- 
age and strengthen congress — to whose hands the constitution 
wisely entrusts the power — to such just action as zcill make peace 
permanent and liberty universal. 

Evidently being made to realize they were traveling too fast, 
the meeting of the soldiers and sailors committee was called off. 
A meeting of negroes was held, however, under a "call for or- 
ganizing, to go earnestly and actively to work to demonstrate 


Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 249 

that we know our rights and knowing, can maintain them." In 
an address 'by a number of radical leaders, among" them Senator 
Harlan, they told the audience of blacks and whites "That there 
would be no difficulty in the passage of a law to frame impartial 

Like buzzards scenting their prey before its death, there -was a 
gathering of loyal southerners in Chicago to inform a willing 
congress how to prepare the way for the coming of carpet bag- 
gers. They declared that "congress had the power to demolish 
the existing State governments, by declaring that no constitu- 
tional government has existed in the South since the passage of 
the secession ordinances, at which time, no matter what valid- 
ity may be given to the act of secession, the constitutional govern- 
ments of those States were lost. But while some may believe 
that this act of secession was illegal, and that the State govern- 
ments are simply waiting to be manned by loyal men, no question 
can be raised but that the attempt of President Johnson to rein- 
state State governments was without the sanction of law, and his 
organizations are a nullity, and the duty of reinstating the State 
governments is thrown upon Congress, under the clause of the 
Constitution which provides that the United States shall guaran- 
tee a republican form of government to every State in this Union. 

The class of men who voted for secession and abjured their al- 
legiance to the United States became by these acts aliens, having 
thus decitizenized themselves by a voluntary act. They have no 
political rights, nor can they have until Congress removes this dis- 
ability. . ,! ;| H 

The President's pardon, if allowable before conviction, can 
only exempt from judicial punishment for treason. Expiation is 
not a crime to be pardoned, but a privilege, and when once accom- 
plished by abjuration of citizenship, the status of allegiance is 
fixed and irrevisible until the naturalizing power, in some form, 
removes the disability. The status of alienage being hxed to the 
disability, to take, hold, and convey real estate without permission 
of the Government, also attaches. In speaking, therefore, of the 
South, reference can only be had temporarily thereunto, irrespec- 
tive of color or condition, and any proposition that shall treat 


250 Mississippi Historical Society. 

with rebels is antagonistic to the principles of republicanism, and 
must of necessity be treason. 

These "loyal Southerners" were much more concerned in 
feathering" their dirty nests with spoils, than about diction or 
logic. They looked only to selfish ends, reckless of the conse- 
quences of provoking guerrilla warfare in the South and' a political 
revolt in the North. But congress knew that the iron could be 
driven in so far and no farther. Though some of the leaders 
would have gone as far as these wretches, the future scala- 
wags and carpet baggers, counseled, the majority would not go to 
the extreme of driving the people of the South forth as aliens, 
and handing over their lands for the use of non-rebels and ne- 

Certain federal court decisions offered some amelioration at 
this period of southern conditions. The supreme court annulled 
a "test oath" enactment which imposed a retroactive affirmation 
of loyalty as a condition precedent to lawyers being allowed to 
practice in the United States Courts. Judge Hill of the Missis- 
sippi federal district, had ruled that it could not apply to mem- 
bers of the bar who had been admitted to practice prior to the 
passage of the act, but leaving it in force as to those admitted 
subsequently. The supreme court annulled it in toto. 

Under Gen. Daniel E. Sickles' military rule bore heavily in 
the Carolinas. He overrode civil authority readily and ruthlessly, 
removing and appointing civil officers at Avill. Of one of his 
orders annulling a civil decision, in a civil case, Reynolds says 
in his "Reconstruction in South Carolina": "It is safe to say 
that no act of any military commander ever gave greater offense." 
In one of his many military trials in South Carolina an old man, 
aged 80, was convicted of killing a negro. He was given a life 
sentence. A year later, in November, 18GG, this case was taken 
on a writ of habeas corpus, before Associate Justice Nelson of 
the U. S. Supreme Court. He ruled that the trial was illegal — 
that Smith was 'entitled to the full enjoyment of all his constitu- 
tional rights and privileges" ; and the prisoner was released. 
While not passing on the merits of the case, Justice Nelson re- 
marked that "it was alleged the killing: was in self defense." The 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 251 

court by which this citizen was tried and sentenced was presided 
over by Gen. Adelbert Ames, afterwards so well known in Mis- 

About the same time another South Carolina military court 
sentence was annulled. Four citizens of the state had been tried 
in October, 1SG5, and convicted of murdering three Union sol- 
diers. A death sentence was imposed and affirmed by Gen. 
Sickles. It was, by the President, committed to life imprison- 
ment. Being confined to Fort Delaware, they were, in November, 
1866, taken before U. S. Judge Hall, under a writ of habeas cor- 
pus. The prisoners were given their freedom, the Judge ruling 
that the trial, conviction and sentence by military court was null 
and void. 

December 17th, 1866, the supreme court delivered the much 
more comprehensive and far-reaching decision in the case of Mil- 
ligan, a citizen of Indiana, under death sentence by a military 
court. This was annulled as unconstitutional on the following 
grounds : "First, that civilians could not be tried by military tri- 
bunals, while the United States courts are recognized and in oper- 
ation. 2, the military in the Southern states have> at present, no 
control over the civil authority. 3, congress has no power to 
grant jurisdiction to the military courts over the civil courts 
where these latter are in undisputed operation. " The decision 
evoked bitter denunciations from the radical leaders. It was ar- 
gued through the press that congress reconstruct the court, on 
partisan lines. ''The late decision of the United States Supreme 
Court," said Thad Stevens, while urging the radical plan of re- 
construction, "has rendered the immediate action of congress up- 
on the question of establishing government in the rebel states 
absolutely indispensable. That decision, though in terms perhaps 
not so infamous as the Dred Scott decision, is yet far more dan- 
gerous and disastrous in its operation on the lives and liberties of 
loyal men of the country. The decision has taken away the pro- 
tection of every loyal man, black or white, who resides there. 

That decision has unsheathed the dagger and put it to the 
throat of every loyal man who dares to proclaim himself, now 
or hereafter, a loyal Union man. If that decision be true, then 

252 Mississippi Historical Society. 

never were any men in such terrible perils as our loyal brethren 
in the South, white and black, whether originally residing there 
or not. Mr. Speaker, Congress must proceed at once to do 
something to protect those people from the barbarian horde who 
are daily murdering them, white and black, and putting into se- 
cret graves hundreds and thousands of the loyal colored people." 
The decision was used most effectively as a goad on the radi- 
cals, for taking the South by the throat. In spite of contradiction 
of reason and evidence, the picture of the South drawn by Stev- 
ens was believed by the great majority in the North. Contrib- 
uting to the mad craze that was carrying the nation onward 
on an evil course, Secretary of War Stanton said of the ruling: 
"It rendered the army in the South perfectly powerless." Con- 
servatives were correspondingly rejoiced. The National Intel- 
ligencer said : "By the decision the Union was saved in the full 
integrity of its three grand divisions. The moral weight of the 
decision cannot be measured by any of the great questions which 
shook the republic in days gone by. But more than, all the unanim- 
ity of the whole bench on all that was vital in the great question, 
is without previous example." This glowing comment failed to 
note two ominous features of the decision. 1st. The sinister 
injection of the words "at present" in the second point, was by 
all the bench. And 2nd, the court divided on the third point 
and this was proved to be very vital. It is not too much to 
charge that the supreme court here lost, instead of "saved the 
Union in its full integrity." While congress was checked and 
enraged, it was enlightened and emboldened. The decision while 
pointing out obstacles hinted a way for overriding them by legis- 

Aidvantage was taken of the break-up of his followers, of 
their avowed and demonstrated readiness to surrender to the 
^radicals at discretion, to attempt and tempt the president's for- 
titude. How he was approached is revealed in a Washington 
letter to The New York Commercial of Nov. 19th, which is 
quoted : 

"It it confidently expected that reconstruction would be amica- 
bly settled early in the approaching session. Negotiations for 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 253 

that purpose are in progress between the President and leading 
politicans of all parties North and South, the basis of settlement 
to be universal suffrage and general amnesty. The President par- 
tially accedes to this proposition, but insists upon constitutional 
grounds that the question of suffrage properly belongs to the 
states, and is, so far, averse to any action of congress on that sub- 
ject. The telegram also states that if assurances can be obtained 
from* Southern leaders of the speedy adoption of universal suf- 
frage, the President will waive his objections." 

Failing to induce him, and to excuse their own desperate and 
hate inspired course, Radical chroniclers have sought to create 
the impression that President Johnson was "spoiling for fight ;" 
as Mr. Blaine, the falsest of all false witnesses says, he was known 
to be in a state of "great indignation." In reason, and upon all 
the available grounds of inference, the overwhelming defeat at the 
polls of his policy, and the desertion of so many of his supporters, 
had deprived Mr. Johnson of his native aggressiveness. He 
would gladly have come to an agreement with those from whom 
he had parted. But the President was a Southern Democrat and a 
full sharer in Southern race sentiment. His belief that the suf- 
frage question belonged to the states was fixed and fundamen- 
tal. In this view it is assumed that if he ever agreed to waive 
his objection to universal suffrage, it was with the 'knowledge 
that the condition he attached to his waiver would never be 
met — that "Southern leaders," and Southern people, would 
never consent to "universal suffrage." Though all the evi- 
dence shows that Northern Democrats and conservative Repub- 
licans had abandoned hope of having the 14th amendment ac- 
cepted by the Radicals as a finality. And this -before a single 
Southern state had turned it down. Talk of an agreement be- 
tween the President and the Radicals was heard no more, after 
the session opened — Thad Stevens, the unquestioned leader, 
reached the capital declaring for "a more radical policy than 

The provocation, or the pretext, bottomed on craft, and the 
temper under which congress met and shaped its Southern pol- 
icy, is thus stated by S. S. Cox — Union, Disunion and Recon- 
struction — page 375-6: "Loud complaints were soon heard of 

254 Mississippi Historical Society. 

the tyranny and cruelty exercised on the blacks. Congress was 
in no mood to listen to such complaints with indifference. 
Northern and Congressional sentiment was rapidly developing 
in favor of a more radical treatment of the South. It began to 
be believed that nothing short of an unqualified' grant of suf- 
frage to the negroes would secure them peace, with justice. It 
was also thought that the predominance of the Republican party 
would be assured by such a grant." 

The effect upon "Northern and congressional sentiment" — 
bent on such a policy toward the South — of a message written 
with the quill of a dove, was neither convincing nor soothing. 
The radical leaders were all the more exasperated that the tone, 
and temper of the Fresident was calculated to disarm wrath, 
gave no cause for quarrel. Nor was there aught in the matter 
of the message apart from the fact that Mr. Johnson was of the 
"same opinion still," upon the question of the readmission of the 
Southern states to the Union, to inflame the settlement of the is- 
sue. Mr. Johnson announced the complete acceptance by the 
South of the verdict of the war — emancipation and reunion. 
"In all the states," he said, "civil authority has superseded the 
coercion of arms — the animosities of war are yielding to the 
kindly effects of unrestricted social and commercial intercourse." 
The "one thing that yet remained to be done before the work of 
restoration was completed was admission to congress of the 
senators and representatives of the states whose people had re- 
belled." He expressed deep regret in this omission, and im- 
pressively urged their admission on congress. He said : 

"I deem it a subject of profound regret, that congress has thus 
far failed to admit to seats, loyal senators and representatives 
from other states, whose inhabitants had engaged in the rebellion'. 
Ten states, more than one-fourth of the whole number, remain 
without representation. The seats of fifty members in the house 
of representatives, and of twenty members in the senate, are 
yet vacant, not by their own consent, not by a mature reflection ; 
but the refusal of congress to accept their credentials. Their 
admission it is believed would have accomplished much toward the 
removal and strengthening of our relations as one people, and re- 
move serious cause for discontent' on the part of the inhabitants 
of these states. It would have accorded with the great principle 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 255 

enunciated in the declaration of American independence. That 
no people ought to bear the burden of taxation and yet be denied 
the right of representation ; that each state shall have at least one 
representative ;, and that no state shall be deprived of its equal suf- 
frage in the senate. These provisions were intended to secure to 
every state, and to the people of every state, that right- of repre- 
sentation in each house of congress, and so important was it 
deemed by the framers of the constitution that equality of the 
states in the senate should be preserved, that not even by an 
amendment of the constitution can any state without its consent, 
be denied a voice in that branch of the national legislature." 

The president reminded congress that the action he had 
taken looking to the restoration of the southern states to the 
union, his construction of a southern policy, was entirely in line 
with the declarations of congress ; "at the very commencement 
of the rebellion" each house had declared with a unanimity as 
remarkable as it was significant that "the war was not waged 
for a war of conquest or for subjugation nor overthrowing, or 
interfering with the rights and established institutions of those 
states." And that "the action of the executive department of 
the government has been equally definite and uniform, and the 
purpose of the war was specifically stated in the proclamation 
issued by my predecessor on the 22nd day of Sept., 1862. It 
was then solemnly proclaimed and declared that "hereafter as 
heretofore, war would be prosecuted for the object of practi- 
cally restoring the constitutional relations between the United 
States, and each of the states, and the people thereof, in which 
states that relation is, or may be suspended or disturbed." 

Entitled as these reminders were to the gravest considera- 
tion, they were idle words addressed to a radical congress and 
their northern constituency, determined and committed upon 
a southern policy of revenge and degradation. The keynote of 
negro suffrage, and all which that abomination implied, was 
touched upon by each chaplain of the two houses in the prayers 
for which the session opened. The Senate was no sooner con- 
vened that a motion was made by Senator Sumner, of Massa- 
chusetts, for the passage of the bill introduced in the previous 
session for conferring suffrage upon the negroes of the District 

256 Mississippi Historical Society. . 

of Columbia. The introduction of this resolution was closely 
followed by the following communication : 

Washington City, D. C, 
Mayor's Office, City Hall, 

Jan. 6th, 1866. 
Sir: I have the honor in compliance with an act of the coun- 
cils of this city, approved December 16th, 1865, to transmit 
through you to the senate of the United States, the result of the 
election held on Thursday, 21st, December, "to ascertain the 
opinion of the people of Washington on the question of negro 
suffrage" at which the vote was 6,626, segregated, as follows : 

Against negro suffrage 6, 591 

For negro suffrage - 35 

Majority against negro suffrage 6, 556 

The only effect of this proof of the inveterate and unanimous 
opposition by the white people of Washington to negro suf- 
frage was to subject them to torrents of invective., After ex- 
tended debate, the Sumner bill was enacted over the president's 
veto ; the ice was broken, the monstrous plunge into the extreme 
of negro suffrage with all of its entail of ills — which Carlyle 
called "shooting Niagara" — was taken. The tree soon proved its 
evil nature by a fruitage of violence and rioting. Its repeal w r as 
forced upon a radical congress. But not daring to make open 
acknowledgment of their crime on statesmanship, the vote 
was taken from the district indiscriminately, the whites gladly 
sacrificing their privilege to be rid of the negro iii politics. 

The district suffrage resolution was closely followed by a 
motion from Senator Chandler, of Michigan, to concur in the 
house repeal, at the previous session of section 13 of an act "to 
suppress insurrection, to punish treason and rebellion, to secure 
the confiscation of the property of rebels." The effect of such 
repeal would be to take from the president the power to grant 
pardons and amnesty to persons who were under the ban of 
the law as he deemed right. 

In asking the reference of the Chandler resolution to the 
proper committee, Senator Trumbull, of Illinois, said that "The 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 257 

senator from Michigan was no more zealous than he was for 
an efficient confiscation bill.' v A shoal of resolutions and mo- 
tions of like ill omen followed ; for establishing- territorial gov- 
ernment in the southern states ; for disfranchisement of confed- 
erates in the District of Columbia ; for disbanding southern 
militia companies ; to establish martial law in every district and 
county in the south, declaring that states not admitted in the 
union at the time of the presidential election should not be rep- 
resented in the electoral college ; that no names of congressmen 
should be entered on the roll of the fortieth congress from 
states not represented in the thirty-ninth. Other resolutions 
were offered, extreme to a point of absurdity. But all were 
straws, showing the set of the wind, the gathering of the storm 
about to burst over the south. 

There was a wave of petitions from "union" men in the south 
with recitations of outrages, designed to spur congress into 
overthrowing the provisional government. Names of signers 
wherever specific charges were alleged, were suppressed. The 
truth of these petitions as charged by Senator Davis of Ken- 
tucky was that "a number of radicals too insignificant to grasp 
the government of their states, just petitioned congress to put 
these states in commission, establish government by commis- 
sioners and make them the commissioners." 

Upon a motion for consideration of the president's message, 
that part of it referring to the southern states, Mr. James G. 
Blaine, of Maine, formally opened the debate upon the recon- 
struction policy of his party. Certain passages of his speech 
are quoted : 

"The popular elections of 18G6 have decided that the lately 
rebellious states shall not be readmitted to the privilege of rep- 
resentation in congress on any less stringent condition than 
the adoption of the pending constitutional amendment ; but 
those elections have not determined that the privileges of rep- 
resentation shall be given to those states as an immediate con- 
sequence of adopting the amendment * * * Had the south- 
ern states after the adjournment of congress, accepted the 
amendment promptly and in good faith, as a definite basis of 
adjustment, the loyal states would have indorsed it as such 

258 Mississippi Historical Society. 

* * * The southern states, however, have not accepted the 
amendment as a basis of adjustment, but have, on the other hand, 
vehemently opposed it ; every one of them that has thus far acted 
on the question, with the exception of Tennessee having defi- 
antly rejected it." * * * 

Mr. Blaine sought to inflame the public by epithet — resolute 
the South was, but the spirit of "defiance" had been chastened 
out of her people. The hideous plan for placing black heels 
on white necks being then popular, the paramount issue with 
his party, it was supported by Mr. Blaine. But the political 
foresight in which he was gifted caused distrust of the radical 
reconstruction designs — his gift revealed that it was destined 
to historic condemnation. With Jesuitical cunning he sought 
to fly the wrath to come by fixing a false responsiblity on the 
South. But after the manner of tricksters and time servers, 
Mr. Blaine was condemned out of his own mouth. His asser- 
tion that other conditions of readmission had been devised for 
the South because of her rejection of the 14tli amendment was 
punctured in the succeeding passage of his speech, to-wit: 

■ "The people so far as I represent them., have plainly spoken in 
the late elections and the interpretation of their voice is not diffi- 
cult. They have pronounced with unmistakable emphasis in 
favor of constitutional amendment with the superadded and in- 
dispensable prerequisite of manhood suffrage." 

At the time Mr. Blaine's state had "spoken for the absolute 
civil and political equality of American citizens without regard 
to color, etc.," in September, no southern state had rejected or 
had had the opportunity of rejecting the 14th amendment. 
Nor had any, except Tennessee — whose case was wholly dif- 
ferent — passed on it up to the time the November elections 
were held. In fact the opposition of the southern states was 
of immaterial effect — the amendment was ratified and incor- 
porated in the constitution without their support. Then why 
the stir over the south's rejection? Was it maliciously de- 
signed to have the southern people incur for themselves and 
their posterity the reproach of basely voting for the third sec- 


Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 259 

tion which disfranchised their leaders? Mr. Blaine, however, 
was almost the only member of congress, to set up the claim 
that the southern states would have secured readmission to the 
union upon their adoption of the fourteenth amendment. Every 
radical leader, if not every radical, who spoke on this point, 
contradicted him. Mr. Grinell, in behalf of Iowa's 37,000 re- 
publican majority and the loyal press, said: "Not one of them 
ever held that they were bound to receive these states on the 
mere ratification of the constitutional amendment." Mr. Wash- 
burn, of Illinois, and other republicans, echoed this denial. 

Mr. Spalding, Democrat, thus met the reproach against the 
south for rejecting the 14th amendment: 

"Mr. Speaker, I am satisfied that the opposition made in the 
Southern states to this amendment to the constitution arises, 
mainly, from the provision contained in the third section. I was 
informed not many days ago in the town of Petersburg, Va., 
where I went during the holidays to view some of the landmarks 
made conspicuous during the recent war — I was informed by some 
of the gentlemen residents there, that they wanted this difficulty 
settled. I said to them: "Here is the constitutional amendment 
and you repudiate it." They replied : "If you can put that con- 
stitutional amendment in force without our aid, then do it, and 
we will submit to it. We do not so much complain of the provi- 
sion itself as that we are called into action to vote on it as a part 
of the constitution of the United States." Upon the hypothesis 
that their action on it only goes to show their submission to the. 
terms we are trying to impose, they will permit the loyal states to 
make this a part of the constitution of the United States by a 
three- fourths vote, anti-then come in and express their acceptance 
of it." 

While the reconstruction committee did not report the bill 
finally enacted — remanding the Southern states to military 
rule, dividing them into military districts — until later in the 
session, Mr. Thaddeus Stevens, the leading house member of 
the committee and the unchallenged radical leader over all, in- 
troduced a bill embracing negro suffrage, on the first day con- 
gress assembled after the holidays. In his remarks, which are 
quoted from, it will be seen what this all powerful and implac- 
able leader thought of "inconsiderate and incautious republi- 

260 Mississippi Historical Society. 

cans who should ever have supposed that the slight proposed 
constitutional amendment would satisfy," etc. 

"Now, Mr. Speaker, unless congress proceeds at once to do 
something to protect those people from the barbarians who are 
daily murdering them ; who are murdering the loyal whites daily 
and putting into secret graves, not only hundreds, but thousands 
of colored people of that country, unless congress proceeds at 
once to adopt some means for their protection, I ask you and every 
man who loves liberty whether we will not be liable to just cen- 
sure of the world for our negligence or our cowardice, or our 
want of ability to do so. 

"Now, sir, it is for these reasons that I insist on the passage of 
some such measure as this. This is a bill designed to enable loyal 
men, so far as I could discriminate them in these states, to form 
governments which shall be in loyal hands, that they may pro- 
tect themselves from such outrages as I have mentioned. 
* * * Another good reason is, it would insure the ascendency 
of the Union party. Do you avow the party purpose? exclaims 
some 'horror stricken demagogue. I do. For I believe, on my 
conscience, that on the continued ascendency of that; party, de- 
pends the safety of this great nation. If impartial suffrage is in- 
cluded in the rebel states, then every one of them is sure to send 
a rebel delegation to congress, and cast a solid rebel electoral vote. 
They, with their kindred copperheads of the North, would always 
elect the President and control congress. * * * Congress in- 
sists on changing the basis of representation so as to put white 
voters on an equality in both sections, and that such change shall 
precede the admission of any state. I deny that there is any un- 
derstanding, expressed or implied, that upon the adoption of the 
amendment by any state, that such state may be admitted (before 
the amendment becomes part of the constitution). Such a course 
would soon surrender the government into the hands of the rebels. 
Such a course would be senseless, inconsistent and illogical. Con- 
gress denies that any state lately in rebellion has any government 
or constitution known to the constitution of the United States, 
or which can be recognized as any part of the Union. How, then, 
can such a state adopt the amendment? To allow it would be 
yielding the whole question and admitting the unimpaired rights 
of the seceded states. I know of no republican who does not ridi- 
cule what Mr. Seward thought a cunning movement, in counting 
Virginia and other outlawed states among those which had 
adopted the constitutional amendment abolishing slavery. It is 
to be regretted that inconsiderate and incautious Republicans 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 261 

should ever have supposed that the slight amendments already 
proposed to the constitution, even when incorporated into that in- 
strument, would satisfy the reform necessary for the security of 
the government. Unless the rebel states, before admission, 
should be made republican in spirit, and placed under the guar- 
dianship of loyal men, all our blood and treasure will have been 
spent in vain. I waive now the question of punishment, which 
if we are wise, will still be inflicted by moderate confiscations, 
both as a reproof and example. Having these States, as we all 
agree, entirely within the power of congress, it is our duty to 
take care that no injustice shall remain in their organic laws." 

Here we have the plain truth of the terms on which the 
Southern states could re-enter the Union. There never was a 
day after congress met, in December, 18G5, when the doors 
would have been opened on any less condition than negro suf- 
frage. Mr. Stevens, who was honest to the core, who neither 
deluded himself nor held out delusions to the South, cared 
nothing for the South's rejection of the 14th amendment; on 
which Mr. Blaine seeks to pivot reconstruction history. On 
the day following, Mr. Stevens made reply to the remarks 
above quoted from Mr. Spalding, of Ohio. 

"That resolution (By Mr. Spalding) was the entering wedge 
into the house of the sanction of the idea that when the proposed 
amendment to the constitution should be adopted the states now in 
rebellion would be admitted to their representation in this house. 
I 'knew that that doctrine has been announced * * * I knew 
it had been urged not only in Mr. Spalding's, but in other Ohio 
districts, and' the people there had been taught the doctrine that 
the proposed constitutional amendment was the final action of 
congress in regard to the admission of these states. In my judg- 
ment a more pernicious heresy never was promulgated. * * * 
I put it to the house and the country, if that would not be the 
most pernicious action that any rebel sympathizer could propose 
in this body. * * * The language of the resolution contem- 
plates the reception of senators and representatives from the 
rebellious states respectively upon the ratification by them of the 
constitutional amendment, distinctly inviting and legalizing the 
action of these states upon the amendment. Could anything more 
effectually stultify this body? * * * The adoption of the 
amendment has no bearing whatever on the reconstruction of 
these states." 

'Mississippi Historical Society. 

No Republican challenged Mr. Stevens on this correction of 
a "pernicious doctrine" — Mr. Blaine simply tucking the lie his 
leader exposed up his sleeve to write it in his history indict- 
ment of the South. 

As noted before, Mississippi had been blessed in military 
commanders who, as far as they could consistently with the 
national policy and laws, left the trial and punishment of crim- 
inals to the court authorities. This was especially true of Gen. 
Wood, under whom there had been no trials of citizens before 
military courts. How this course was appreciated by the peo- 
ple of the state will be read in the following: 

Major-General T. J. Wood: 

The undersigned, members of the grand jury of the Criminal 
Court of Warren county, for the November term, 18G6, cannot 
adjourn without expressing their deep sense of your judicious 
and impartial course as commander of the Department of Missis- 
sippi. No interference by the military has prevented the dis- 
charge of our duty, or that of the civil officers ; anjl we may be 
permitted to express the hope that the civil judiciary has at least 
shown itself competent to protect the innocent and punish the 
guilty, in the opinion of the military authorities. 

Accept the assurance, general, of our highest consideration. 

Saturday, Dec. 1st, 1SG6. 

Henry Hammett, ' 

Foreman Grand Jury, 
v M. Murphey, N. B. Lanier, 

J. C. Harris, N. J. Hall, 

N. V. Lane, Wm. Hazard, 

E. Fox, Joseph Botto, 

Gko. Smith, C. H. Hilli, 

Fred. C. Keizer, J. W. Mattingly. 

Vicksburg, Miss., Dec. 5th, 1SGG. 

To Henry Hammctt, Esq., Foreman; and M. Murphey and others, 

members of the Grand Jury of the Criminal Court of Warren 

county, for the November term f 18G6 : 

Gentlemen : For the very kind and complimentary opinion 

of my military administration in this state, expressed in your card 

of the 1st inst., I beg you will accept my sincere and hearty thanks. 

I am sure no class of citizens desire more sincerely to see an 

equal, fair and just administration of impartial laws through the 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 263 

regularly organized civil tribunals, without the intervention of 
military authority, than do the officers of our national military es- 

Please accept, gentlemen, the assurance of my high considera- 
tion and kind wishes for each one of you singly, and the whole 

I am, very respectfully, 

Your obedient servant, 

Th. J. Wood, 
Bvt. Maj. Gen., U. S. A. 

An interesting item of proof of the "good feeling" at this pe- 
riod, to which Gen. Grant testified in his famous report of a tour 
of the South, was furnished in the proceedings of a meeting of 
the state editors in Vicksburg, in November, 1866. This meet- 
ing was held at the very time the Northern voters were voting 
out civil government in the lately rebellious states; under the in- 
fluence of stories of a reign of negro murder in the South, and in 
Mississippi worst of all. The Herald's report of a banquet given 
the vistors, to which the military officers of the post were invited, 
is quoted from: , j 

As Vicksburg was then a garrison post, and the headquarters 
of the state military district, the banquet was made a harmony 
demonstration. • 

Officers of the Federal troops stationed in the city, and ex- 
Confederate soldiers to use a then common phrase, met to "shake 
hands across the bloody chasm." Such a commingling of vic- 
tors and vanquished only a year after the close of the war was 
accorded a special political significance, as the tide of radical pro- 
scriptions and persecutions of the Southern people was rising 
fast. Many of the chief citizens of Vicksburg were present as 
the hosts of the banquet. Captain C. A. Manlove, one of the 
oldest and most enterprising merchants of the city, presided at the 
head of the table, while Gen. T. J. Wood, -commander of the 
troops in Mississippi, was seated on one side of him and the Rev. 
C. K. Marshall, a noted and eloquent Methodist minister, on the 
other. The company consisting of citizens of Vicksburg, editors 
and federal officers, were so seated at the table as to make the 
commingling of the late foes conspicuous. The fraternal feat- 
ure of the convivial gathering was indicated by the following 
list of toasts and speakers : 

264 Mississippi Historical Society. 

"Our Country" — Ex-Senator Walker Brooke. 

"Our State"— General \V. IT. McCardle. 

"Our President"— Rev. C. K. Marshall. 

"Our Governor" — J. M. Patridge. 

"Our Army"— Gen. T. J. Wood. 

"Our City"— Mayor E. W. Wallin. 

"Yanks and Rebs — The Douglas and Hotspur Together Defy 
the World"— Col. J. A. Ellet, U. S. A., and Upton Young, ex- 

"The Conservative Party of the Country is the Fighting Men 
of Both Armies" — Gen. N. A. Dudley, commander of the post, 

While all of the speeches were worthy of the occasion, that of 
Gen. Dudley, a fine speaker, was accorded the greatest signifi- 
cance and received the highest applause. Both he and Gen. 
Wood, and in fact all of the officers and soldiers stationed in the 
state, were in full sympathy with our people. Gen. Wood s ad- 
ministration of his duties as military commander, in one of the 
most trying years in the life of the state, should be ever remem- 
bered with greatest approbation. 

At the beginning of the year Gen. Wood was relieved from 
duties he had performed with so much credit to himself and the 
government. The common feeling upon his departure from 
the state may be read in the remarks below quoted from the 
Vicksburg Herald, of January 4th, 1867, which were echoed 
from many sources. As one of the few pleasing pages of the of- 
ficial history of the period, and as a faithful picture of the negro 
as he was before politically contaminated, General Wood's fare- 
well order is also published: 

Gen. T. J. Wood, commanding this department, has been re- 
lieved from duty, and given three months' leave of absence. He 
will be succeeded by Gen. A. C. Gillem, colonel of the 24th U. S. 
regular infantry, who has not yet arrived. 

We cannot forbear to speak in praise of the course of Gen. 
Wood, during his residence among us. He has endeavored to 
make military rule fall as lightly as possible upon the people of 
our state, and he has the assurance of their appreciation and re- 
gard. Their best wishes will follow him for his future prosper- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 265 

District of Mississippi, 
Vicksburg, Miss., Jan. 9, 1867. 


On being relieved from the command of the District of Mis- 
sissippi and the charge of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and 
Abandoned Lands in this state, and on the eve of his departure 
to another field of duty, the undersigned embraces the opportu- 
nity to express such acknowledgment as he deems pertinent to 
the occasion. 

To his Excellency, the Governor of the state, to the higher ex- 
ecutive and judicial officers, and to many private citizens, the un- 
dersigned expresses his obligations for the courtesy and respect 
which they have uniformly displayed toward him, as well in per- 
sonal as in official intercourse. 

To the colored people, over whose interests for a number of 
months past the undersigned has exercised a special guardianship, 
he returns his thanks for their unvarying kindness and respect. 
The undersigned cannot take leave of these people without ex- 
pressing his warm commendation of their general good conduct, 
and their remarkable exhibition of industry, faithfulness, general 
sobriety, and anxious desire for the improvement of their race un- 
der peculiarly trying circumstances. 

The year just closed has been attended by circumstances well 
calculated to try the virtue of the colored people. The general 
failure of the crops, and the consequent honest inability of many 
planters to pay the wages of labor, attended by an enhanced price 
of food, might readily have given rise, without much surprise, 
(such events happen in similar circumstances among the laboring 
population of other countries) to discontent, violence, and lawless- 
ness among the colored people ; but no such outrages have marred 
their conduct ; on the contrary, they have displayed in a high de- 
gree a sense of their appreciation of all the obligations imposed 
by humanity and the social compact. 

The undersigned witnessed a striking confirmation of this state- 
ment a few days since. During the night of the 23d ult., a ter- 
rible conflagration, laying in ruins nearly half of the business 
portion, raged for seven hours in this city. The undersigned 
observed with much gratification not unmixed with some surprise, 
the activity and faithfulness with which hundreds of colored men 
labored through all those long and dreadful hours to stay the 
progress of the devouring element. 

Such conduct on their part was not the result of any sordid 
motive for the fire did not occur in the part of the city occupied 

266 Mississippi Historical Society. 

by the colored people ; and it) is more than probable that not one 
of the colored men who labored so faithfully to extinguish the 
flames during that awful night had a cent of pecuniary interest 
in the burnt district. 

It is respectfully submitted that the conduct of the colored peo- 
ple generally in this state during the past year commends them 
not only to the justice, but to the generosity of the more fortu- 
nate race. The undersigned recommends most earnestly to the 
colored people to continue their efforts to improve their material 
and moral well-being by the practice of industry, sobriety, the re- 
ligious duties, and by the creation of educational facilities for 
their children. 

To the officers and soldiers who have served under the com- 
mand of the undersigned he expresses his thanks for a zealous 
and intelligent performance of duty. 

The officers of the administrative and immediate staff of the 
undersigned and all attaches, both military and civil, to his head- 
quarters, have served him with a fidelity, intelligence, and devo- 
tion that won his profound gratitude, and made an impression on 
his heart that no mutation of fortune will ever obliterate. To 
them, one and all, he tenders his warmest thanks, anal bids them a 
kindly good-bye. Th. J. Wood, 

Brevet Major General, U. S. A. 

Under the lowering clouds of sectional proscription and per- 
secution, a year of deepest economic depression and distress 
drew to its close. In a published letter telling the extent of the 
failure of the cotton crop in the river section, Dr. J. H. D. Bow- 
mar, of Vicksburg, a statistician of note, reveals the conditions 
that prevailed. The letter stated that "counties of Bolivar, 
Issaquena and Washington and the parishes of Carroll, Madi- 
son, Tensas and Concordia in 1SG0 raised 450,000 bales of cot- 
ton, about a ninth of the South's total. In I860 the crop of the 
same counties and parishes would not exceed 50,000 bales." 
While there was a great deal of moving from place to place by 
the negroes, they were not intractable to good counsels, and 
had worked as well or better than was expected. The delusion 
of living without labor, of loafing and tramping around the 
bureau camps — the confusion of the first stage of emancipa- 
tion — had passed. And under the extreme destitution of the 


Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 267 

failure of an unprececlentedly bad season, they were quite 
ready to contract and go to work in 1867. 

The even darker days ahead were not, fortunately for the 
state, foreseen by the people. While there was general reali- 
zation of the congressional design, few indeed took in the 
dread reality of negro suffrage and carpet bag rapacity. Noth- 
ing but the fact of the harvest of the seed sown in 1866, the ac- 
tual application of the policy to which congress and the elec- 
tion had doomed the South, could bring its dire, manifold and 
abiding evils home to the common understanding. This was 
well — had the future not been veiled, effort would have been 
paralyzed, hope would have fled. 

Vicksburg, Miss., Jan. 11th, 1867. 
General Orders No. 24. 

In compliance with Special Orders No. 95, Headquarters De- 
partment of the Tennessee, dated December 17th, 1866, the un- 
dersigned assumes command of the District of Mississippi. All 
existing orders will continue in force until notified by competent 

A. C. Gillem, 
Col. 24th U. S. Infantry, 
Bvt. Brig. Gen. U. S. Army. 

The above order was notice to the people of Mississippi of 
a change in military rulers that meant much of bad or good for 
them, in the new year, which, they knew not. As prejudicial 
reports had preceded the coming of Gen. Gillem, it was a vast 
relief and blessing to realize, as time passed, that he was ac- 
tuated by the same instincts of justice, fairness and considera- 
tion toward those over whom he ruled, as his predecessor, Gen. 
Wood. Thus guided, in his instructions and administration, he 
greatly alleviated conditions that needed alleviation sadly. How 
the immediate future was estimated at the beginning of the 
new year, is to be read in the following from the Vicksburg 
Herald of January 4, 1S67 : 

The people of the South have begun the new year with determi- 
nations as strong, but with hopes much weaker than twelve 
months since they entered upon the year just closed. To the 

268 Mississippi Historical Society. 

gloomy, sad and terrible lessons, the sufferings, the memories and 
the defeat of 1865, we have now to add the political trials, the 
spirit of overbearing and reckless fanaticism, the direful determi- 
nation of conscious strength, to humiliate honorable helplessness, 
which have made the past year about as miserable as its prede- 
cessor. But we are determined neither to sit in helpless despond- 
ency amid the ruin of fortunes and the graves of loved and hon- 
ored friends, nor to lose heart because of troubles and complica- 
tions that seem about to sweep away the last vestige of political 
rights left from the fearful wreck. Still hopeful, self-reliant, 
our people are determined by well directed labors during the pres- 
ent year to restore plenty and comfort to many a needy household. 
Eschewing party politics for the more important matters of ma- 
terial prosperity, they will await their fate with quiet dignity and 
manly firmness, and if partisan blindness and sectional hate prove 
the tomb of national liberty, the epitaph which records the fact 
will contain no truthful reflection upon their conduct. 

The new year has not been 'hailed in the South with unmeaning 
rejoicings. We have determined to cultivate the habit of econ- 
omy and industry, and above all we are resolved to be true to our- 
selves, preserving our self-respect. In 'brighter days, when Prov- 
idence shall reward our labors and trials with success, and return- 
ing affluences and prosperity shall have restored our section to its 
accustomed place, and Mississippi with honor, is acknowledged 
an equal with her sister states, we can then give a word of en- 
couragement to our people — till then, all is dark. 

Pursuant to the adjournment of the legislature in October, 
18GG, that body was reassembled on the third Monday of January. 
One of its first acts was to dispose of the fourteenth amendment, 
which had been referred at the previous session to the joint com- 
mittee on state and federal relations. In recommending the re- 
jection of the amendment that committee dealt with the ques- 
tion in an elaborate and exhaustive report. Omitting the argu- 
ment, of the committee, the following forecast of the operations 
of the amendment is quoted: 

"This amendment would disturb to a degree which no jurist 
can foresee, the established relations between the federal and the 
state courts. It would transfer to the former a supervisory, and 
appellate control over the latter, in a very large class of subjects 
that now belong to the exclusive cognizance of the state tribunals. 
It confers on congress large and undefined powers at the expense 
of the reserved rights of the state. It transfers to the United 
States a criminal and police regulation over the inhabitants of the 
states, touching matters purely domestic. It intervenes between 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 269 

the state governments and its inhabitants on the assumption that 
there is an alienation of interest and the sentiment between cer- 
tain portions of the population. And such intervention is for the 
benefit of one class against the other. It tends to create distrust 
between the white and the black races, and perpetually to disturb 
and keep alive these evil passions. It invites appeal „from the 
domestic to the federal judiciary, on questions arising on local 
law, on the predicate that the state courts will not deal with the 
parties with fairness or impartiality." 

It cannot be claimed that a review of disturbances caused by 
this amendment in connection with its supplement, the fifteenth 
amendment, covering the almost half century since its adoption 
has not been verified. At the conclusion of its report the com- 
mittee recommended the adoption of the joint resolution that 
"the state of Mississippi refuse to ratify the amendment to the 
constitution of the United States, proposed by congress as ar- 
ticle 14." On the following day, Governor Humphreys sub-.. 
mitted a message to the legislature as follows: 

To the Senate and House of Representatives: 

I received on the 3rd inst. from the Hon. William L. Sharkey, 
senator-elect to the congress of the United States, a telegram as 
follows : "Hold the legislature in session. I have something to 
communicate." Today I received a communication from him 
enclosing a proposition herewith transmitted. Senator Sharkey 
says : "I enclose propositions which have been prepared by a dele- 
gate from North Carolina, with great care. These propositions 
are to come from the states, and some of the leading men have 
said, if the South dc not like the constitutional amendment, why 
don't they propose some plan of their own? I think they will be 
adopted by North Carolina, South Carolina and Arkansas ; as all 
their delegates here approve them." I have no recommendation 
to make on these propositions, as I disapprove them entirely. 

Benj. G. Humphreys. 

Feb. 11th, 1867. 

The "propositions" embraced a substitute for the fourteenth 
amendment, prepared in Washington with the indorsement, it 
was understood of President Johnson, and certain republicans 
of prominence who had not supported his reconstruction poli- 
cies in the past. It eliminated the obnoxious sections, 3 and 5 

270 Mississippi Historical Society. 

of the article submitted by congress. It extended suffrage to 
all male citizens under a property and educational qualification 
with the proviso that no person who had exercised that privi- 
lege .'should be deprived of it. The legislature referred the 
Sharkey paper to the joint committee on state and, federal rela- 
tions. That committee at a subsequent day made the report up- 
on it which is quoted from as follows : 

"The communication of Hon. William L. Sharkey is in form of 
an amendment to the constitution to suggest by the legislature to 
congress, to be by it, submitted to the states. There is an anxious 
desire on the part of the people that there should be a speedy res- 
toration of constitutional benefits. They are ready — as is this 
legislature — to give the most serious and earnest consideration to 
any just measure which proposes finally to settle the complication 
of state and federal relations. The adoption of the paper by a 
vote of the two houses of the legislature would not relieve us 
from embarrassment. It is not proposed by congress, where the 
power to refer amendments directly to the states resides. The 
several propositions included in that paper would be taken into 
most careful deliberation, if they came before the legislature in 
the shape of final disposition of the subject and would thereby 
bring stability and repose. The people of Mississippi had sup- 
posed that what was done in 1865, removed out of the way the ob- 
structions which interposed between them and the federal govern- 
ment. The war had destroyed the status of slavery. The state 
convention accepted this as a fact and invested emancipation 
with the form of legality by a constitutional amendment. With a 
like formality they negatived and abandoned the claim of seces- 
sion, which had been asserted in 1861, and with equal formality 
recognized, what was then begun and subsequently supported 
with arms, as insurrectionary in character. In these things the 
state conceded in the fullest manner, all that was claimed or sup- 
posed to be claimed of her by the national government, and as 
required by the exigencies. 

These important events transpired during the recess of con- 
gress. Our people did not doubt that when that body convened, 
representatives would be promptly received in the house and the 
senate. : \ : 

In these matters the state conformed her action to the views of 
the executive of the United States which was the only department 
of the government with which communication could then be had. 
It was not supposed or anticipated that there would be any con- 
flict of opinion or policy between the executive and congress." 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 271 

Here follows a recitation of declaration and proclamations of 
President Lincoln in evidence of his views and policies upon re- 
construction. The committee report is quoted further. 

"The essential features of President Lincoln's 'plan' may be 
thus analyzed and summed up : 

1. The state governments must be inaugurated on the basis of 
the absolute freedom of the colored race. 

2. Those alone who were electors by the law of the state, im- 
mediately prior to secession, could vote. 

3. Such only of them as had given evidence of loyalty to the 
government and the constitution by taking the form of oath in- 

4. A 1 small number of the electors might initiate state govern- 
ments, for the plain reason, however, that an opportunity did not 
offer to all to participate. 

5. The exclusion of certain enumerated classes of persons from 
amnesty and of the oath. 

At the date of this proclamation the war was flagrant. The 
national authority had not been completely restored over the en- 
tire territory of any one state. Therefore, it was provided, that 
a less number than a majority of the voters might be enabled to 
set up state governments. 

In May, 18G5, all opposition to the Federal government had 
been overcome. The state functionaries were removed, and there 
was no other government than such as was administered by mili- 
tary authority. 

Up to this time congress had not prescribed the conditions on 
which the states should be restored." 

There follows a statement of what had been required by the 
Federal States by President Johnson upon which the report 
stated : 

"All this has been done. 

"The Convention placed the State, as they sincerely believed, 
in accord and harmony with" the United States. So far as that 
Convention had knowledge or information, it did everything that 
was claimed by the National Government. 

The prompt action of the people shows how ready they were 
to accept and conform to the situation, and how solicitous they 
were for amicable relations." 

272 Mississippi Historical Society. 

The Committee in conclusion recommended the adoption of 
the following resolutions: 

"Resolved by the Legislature of the State of Mississippi. That 
the congress be, and is hereby respectfully requested to declare 
and submit to this state, or the legislature thereof, a final plan for 
the adjustment of state and federal relations, by the terms where- 
of representation in congress will be restored, and all other con- 
stitution benefits assured. 

Resolved, further, That the governor be, and he is hereby re- 
quested to communicate a copy of these resolutions to the presi- 
dent of the senate and the speaker of the house of representatives, 
with request that they will lay the same before their respective 
house of congress." 

Simrall, Chairman. 

The report records the sentiment and the attitude of the state 
of Mississippi upon the question of her re-admission to the 
Union, with a clear, logical and dignified statement of the ob- 
jections to the plan and policy of congress. Though the re- 
port was lost upon congress, it stands in history as right and un- 
answerable — the protests and 'declarations it set forth have been 
vindicated by events that have at the same time eternally con- 
demned the scheme the Republicans demanded and the legisla- 
ture rejected. 

An act amending the statutes in relation to Freedmen — en- 
larging their rights and privileges as defined by the legislature 
of 1865 — was passed. The right expressed in the acts of that 
year for "acquiring, holding and disposing of real estate" was 
extended in respect of personal property. Certain restrictions 
upon the competency of negroes to testify in lawsuits, in the act 
of 1865, were removed and repealed, as well as all laws impos- 
ing discriminating punishment on negroes. It was prescribed 
in the language of the amendment that "they should be tried in 
the same courts, and by the same proceedings as are the whites 
and upon conviction shall be subject to the same pains, penal- 
ties, and punishments." The negro apprentice law of 1865 was 
repealed likewise and the chapter of the code in relation to 
white orphans, was made applicable alike to all "poor orphan 
children, or other children whose parents are unable to support 


Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 273 

them." Thus the "famous black code", which had already been 
largely annulled by military and freedmen's bureau authorities, 
was expunged from the statute books of the state. It was 
nevertheless, and for years to come the steady theme of radi- 
cals to sway the northern vote through sectional prejudice. 
Even certain southern critics have written condemnation of 
these laws, regardless of their immediate annullment, as stated, 
by the military and the closely following legislative repeal. 

The 1866 crop failure supplementing the financial prostra- 
tion consequent upon the war, was the occasion of an act that 
exercised a (potential and not altogether wholesome influence 
upon agriculture and merchandising in the state for 
many years. Involved as they had been in the losses and ruin 
incident to cotton planting in 1866, the cotton factors and com- 
mission merchants of New Orleans and other cities, were no 
longer able to finance the cotton planters, as they had been in 
the past. At a time when credit — for procuring supplies for 
crop growing — was more essential than ever before it was not 
available. To provide for the emergency the legislature enacted 
what was commonly known as an agricultural lien law — a law 
creating a prior lien upon the crops to be grown securing debts 
contracted for advances of money and purchases of supplies re- 
ceived for cultivation of farms and plantations. This extra- 
ordinary statute served for a crisis that offered no other relief, 
while for many years after it opened the door wide to extortion- 
ate charges and extravagant living that absorbed and wasted 
plantation revenues and the hire of which the laborer was worthy. 

The legislature received an earnest appeal from the trustees 
of the University at Oxford for the state to recognize its indebt- 
edness to the institution by an appropriation sufficient for im- 
mediate and urgent necessities. In this memorial the trustees 
announced an auspicious opening of the University — an attend- 
ance that "showed an unexpected ability and disposition on the 
part of the people after the trial by fire through which they had 
passed, to secure for their children, the advantages of the higher 
branches of education." 


274 Mississippi Historical Society. 

The house finally disposed of the "bill regulating final pro- 
cess on judgments and decrees in certain cases" — the proposed 
"stay law" of debt collections. Passed over the veto of Gov. 
Humphreys at the 1865 session, it was annulled as unconstitu- 
tional by the courts. Passed in another form at the October 
term in 1866, and vetoed again, further action was deferred to 
the adjourned session ; when it failed to obtain the necessary 
two-thirds vote. Thus was an issue that was made paramount 
by the distress that followed the war finally disposed of. 

An act of much importance to the Delta counties was one pro- 
viding for the liquidation of the debts and liabilities contracted 
or assumed by the ante-bellum board of levee commissioners. 
For that purpose an acreage tax was imposed on all of the lands 
of the Delta — 5 cents per acre for the front and 3 cents for the 
back counties or parts of counties. The debt as finally com- 
puted was about a million dollars, which represented levee work 
largely wasted away during the war. It was a heavy load to 
be superimposed upon the lands of discouraged^ impoverished 
and bankrupt tax payers. Unable to bear the tax, great bodies 
of lands were forfeited to the levee board and the state. But in 
time the bonds, representing the debts and liabilities, and hun- 
dreds of thousands of dollars more of graft that accrued in ad- 
ministration under carpet bag rule, were liquidated. 

A bill for the relief of railroads in this State and their cred- 
itors, passed the House with only fifteen opposing votes, and the 
Senate was without opposition. Each road was authorized to is- 
sue change notes with whieh to liquidate their present indebted- 
ness and repair their several roads. In absorbing the existing 
indebtedness, the old change notes included, a scaling principle 
was established — thus taking up or paying out at what Confeder- 
ate money was worth at the date of the contract. The tax on 
passengers was suspended with marked unanimity. 

Acts wete passed appropriating money for purchase of arti- 
ficial legs for ex-Confederate soldiers ; and for paying counsel for 
the defense of Jefferson Davis. All soldiers who may have 
committed crimes against the laws of the state while in the 
Federal, Confederate or state service, during the war between 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 275 

the Confederate and the United States, were pardoned by act of 
the legislature. 

After providing as best it could revenues for defraying the 
expenses of government of the state and her institutions, the 
legislature adjourned February 21st, 1867 ; not to be reconvened 
until the assemblage January, 1870, of one elected under the con- 
stitution framed by the "black and tan" convention. 

Reassembled after the holidays, congress resumed consider- 
ation and discussion of the Southern condition with unabated 
acrimony and intolerance. On the first day of the -session, by 
a party vote, the District of Columbia negro suffrage bill was 
passed over the executive veto in the house. The house on the 
following day adopted the Ashley resolution for the 1 impeach- 
ment of the President, by more than a two-thirds vote. While 
the attempt which was revolutionary in design, failed, it was in- 
corporated with vigor as the shadow of coming events. To il- 
lustrate how it was regarded in public opinion, two of the lead- 
ing papers of the nation are quoted : ' 

The New York Herald says : 

No preordained event in human affairs is more certain to come 
to pass than the impeachment and removal of President Johnson 
from office. This thing will be done because it has become a ne- 
cessity to the consummation of this revolution. Congress has 
no alternative when the suspension of its authority over the rebel 
states for two years yet to come is morally certain under Presi- 
dent Johnson. The present house will impeach. The senate, 
after March. 4th, will elect Fessenden as presiding officer — will 
then arraign and suspend the President, and Fessenden at once 
take his place. 

The New York World says: 

"The prospects of the country have never, even during the 
darkest periods of the war, seemed so alarming as at present. 
From well informed sources in Washington, we receive intelli- 
gence which confirms our opinion that the radicals are strenuously 
bent on impeachment; and the result can be nothing less than a 
hideous civil war in which men will be eager to cut the throats 
of their nearest neighbors. It will be no such war as that from 
which we have emerged, in which the combatants were separated 
by geographical lines. There is no part of the country in which 

276 Mississippi Historical Society. 

multitudes of the best citizens do not consider the cause of the 
President as that of the constitution. 

For the purpose of circumventing and nullifying the recent 
Supreme Court decision declaring the test oath " required of 
lawyers practicing before United States courts unconstitutional, 
the house judicary committee reported a bill declaring as a 
court rule that persons guilty of treason, murder, burglary, or 
engaging in the rebellion, were prohibited from practice in said 
courts. In effect such a law would have given Northern law- 
yers the exclusive privilege of practicing in the Southern Fed- 
eral courts. Such manifestation of South hate was too much for 
the senate even, and the bill failed to pass that body. Other 
bills were introduced for forcing the Supreme Court to sustain 
partisan measures regardless of honest construction. 

In the previous session, bills had been passed for the admis- 
sion of the territories of Nebraska and Colorado to statehood; 
but 'failed for lack of the executive approval. In <the reintro- 
duction of the Nebraska bill the debate was dominated by a pro- 
vision for negro suffrage. Radical speakers made a show of 
consistency in this case, with the bill then being incubated by the 
reconstruction committee for the Southern States. As the num- 
ber of negroes in these territories was negligible this show of 
principle was mere pretense. That the bills violated the senti- 
ment of the two territories was evidenced at the identical time of 
the passage of the bills by the Colorado legislature, which en- 
acted a law, over the Governor's veto, prohibiting negroes and 
mulattoes from serving on juries. The President vetoed the 
bills for admitting the two territories. Less than two-thirds of 
the senators voted to pass the Colorado bill over his veto, that 
state being notoriously lacking in the population required for a 
state. The Nebraska bill was passed with the following section : 

Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That this act shall go into 
effect with the fundamental and perpetual condition that within 
the said state of Nebraska, there shall be no abridgement or de- 
nial of the exercise of the elective franchise, or of any other right, 
to any person, by reason of race or color, excepting Indians not 
taxed : and upon the other fundamental condition that the legis- 


Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 2?7 

lature of said state, by a solemn act, shall declare the assent of 
said state to the said fundamental conditions, and shall transmit 
to the President of the United States an authentic copy of said 
act; upon receipt whereof, the President, by proclamation, shall 
forthwith announce the fact; whereupon, said fundamental con- 
dition shall be held as a part of the organic law of the state." 

After much debate, and strong opposition which the party whip 
was barely able to overcome, the "tenure of office" act was passed. 
According to Mr. Blaine there were "many misgivings among 
those who voted for it." He even went so far as to confess that 
the vindictive and revolutionary act to restrict the President's 
constitutional right of appointment and removals was "only the 
cause of subsequent humiliation to all who had taken part in its 
enactment." It was vetoed by the President as "in conflict with 
the constitution." This position was sustained by an exhaustive 
citation of decisions and precedents, which were wasted upon the 
members of the majority in congress. The act was destined to 
become famous, for the charges of its violation by the President, 
which figured conspicuously in his impeachment trial the follow- 
ing year. 

The vindictive spirit in congress appeared in the Agricultural 
school bill, which was extended to the Southern states with the 
proviso that no ex-Confederate soldier should be a professor in 
any college sharing in the scrip distribution. This provision was 
stricken out in the senate. That body also struck out of the West 
Point appropriation bill a section that barred Southern cadets 
from! that institution. The house provided that the cotton tax 
should cease after September 1st, 1867. The senate disagreeing 
to this it was agreed to reduce the tax 2 cents a pound. While 
congress was thus refusing to lift the hand of spoliation from the 
South, in the cities of Baltimore and New York Southern relief 
subscribers were trying to raise money to avert starvation in 
northern Mississippi and parts of Alabama, Georgia and South 
Carolina. The incongruities of the situation were thus satirized 
in the New York Times: 

"We are sorry to learn that the benevolent and patriotic efforts 
of the Southern Relief Association to alleviate the distress pre- 

278 Mississippi Historical Society. 

vailing in several of the Southern states, are not receiving the en* 
couragement which they deserve. The cry for help comes up 
day by day, but the Northern people are chary of their contribu- 
tions, and the demand upon the committee far exceeds the means 
at their disposal. 

The Northern people are too busy with other Southern inter- 
ests just now to give much attention to such commonplace matters 
as starvation and distress. We want the Southern people well 
under martial law; we want to make sure that all the negroes 
have the right to vote, and then we will inquire whether they are 
starving or not. Probably two hundred thousand will perish this 
year — blacks and whites indiscriminately — mainly in Northern 
Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and in the back districts of South 
Carolina; but there will be a good many left, and it is very im- 
portant that those who are left should be under martial law. It 
will not do to let starving men have the benefits of the writ of 
habeas corpus. Besides, while they are starving they can be 
managed more easily. If we feed them we should make them 
more insolent, and they might think it unreasonable in us to stick 
bayonets in them afterwards in order to make them sincerely 
sorry for their rebellion. The best way is now we have got them 
down, to keep them down. Starving will help bring them to a 
realizing sense of their condition and character. There's nothing 
injures a man's morals like feeding him when he is hungry. 
That's just the time you can do with him as you please." 

Many resolutions embracing plans of reconstruction were in- 
troduced and referred to the joint committee of the two houses. 
On February 6th the committee reported its bill to the house 
through Chairman Stevens. It was predicated on the claims 
that "no loyal government or adequate protection for life or 
property existed in the rebel states." Upon introducing the 
bill in the house, Mr. Stevens explained that it provided the 
commander in chief of the army shall take charge of the five 
military districts into which the ten disorganized states were 
divided, through the district commanders respectively, who 
should in carrying out the provisions of the bill, "use the le- 
gal tribunals whenever he may deem them competent; but 
these tribunals are to be considered of no validity per se or no 
intrinsic form, of no force in consequence of their origin ; the 
question being wholly within the power of the conqueror and 


Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 279 

to remain so until that conqueror shall presently supply their 
place with something else." This said the radical leader in 
conclusion "is the whole bill." 

After a week of debate the house divided upon the bill as it 
came from the committee and an amendment offered by Mr. 
Blaine; the committee measure being adopted by a vote of 109 
to 55. It was apparently singular that the Democrats voted 
with the majority, for which they were reproached by the so- 
called "moderates" who supported the Blaine amendment. But 
its only difference with the committee bill was in the manner 
of giving the medicine— the two were identical in the disfran- 
chisement of whites and the enfranchisement of blacks. Dem- 
ocrats were probably influenced in their choice against the 
"Moderates," because promising bread, they gave them a stone. 

Senate Republicans disagreeing on the same line as the 
house, a substitute offered by Senator Sherman was adopted. 
This was bitterly assailed in the house by Stevens and other 
extremists. i\s the session was within a few hours of its close, 
in fear, according to Mr. Blaine, of failing to enact anything, 
amendments were proposed on which the bill was passed. Its 
terms and spirit were reflected in the rejection by a solid party 
vote of an amendment offered by Senator Doolittle, for except- 
ing from the disfranchised Confederates, those who had re- 
ceived executive pardon. 

"If this bill," said the National Intelligencer, "is the best 
scheme this notorious committee has to offer for the restora- 
tion of fraternal feeling throughout a country lately torn by 
civil war, we shall have to record the melancholy fact that the 
race of statesmen is extinct. Will not our public men realize 
that the war is over — that the nation demands that its fierce 
passions shall be hushed — its dread machinery put aside? 
When the thunders of battle have ceased, and the soldiers con- 
fronting each other in deadly array have melted into citizens 
earnestly engaged in the arts of peace, shall the bayonet be 
still substituted for the sheriff's process, the judge be thrust 
under the foot of the general? No true born American wishes 
to govern his fellow countrymen by the mailed hand." Such ap- 

280 Mississippi Historical Society. 

peals were vain in a passion heated period. In its despotic and 
virulent punishment of a whole people there is nothing in the 
history of English speaking people comparable to the recon- 
struction scheme of the Republican party. Omitting the 14th 
amendment which was incorporated in the bill, that instru- 
ment and a portion of the veto with which it met, are herewith 
published : 

Whereas, No legal state governments or adequate protection 
for life or property now exist in the rebel states of Virginia, 
North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mis- 
sissippi, Louisiana, x\rkansas and Texas ; and whereas, it is nec- 
essary that peace and good order should be enforced in said states 
until loyal and republican state governments can be legally es- 
tablished; therefore, 

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
the United States of America in Congress assembled, That said 
rebel states shall be divided into military districts, and made sub- 
ject to the miltary authority of the United States, as hereinafter 
described, and for thai purpose Virginia shall constitute the first 
district ;, North and South Carolina the second district ; Georgia, 
Alabama and Florida the third district ; Mississippi and Arkansas 
the fourth district ; and Louisiana and Texas the fifth district. 

Sec. %. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of 
the President to assign to the command of each of said districts 
an officer of the army not below the rank of brigadier general, 
and to detail a sufficient military force to enable such officer to 
perform his duties and enforce his authority within the district 
to which he is assigned. 

Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of 
each officer assigned as aforesaid to protect all persons in the 
rights of person and property, to suppress insurrection, disor- 
der and violence, and to punish, or cause to be punished, all dis- 
turbers of the public peace, and criminals ; and to this end he may 
allow local civil tribunals to take jurisdiction of and to try offend- 
ers; or, when in his judgment it may be necessary for the trial 
of offenders, he shall have power to organize military commis- 
sions or tribunals for that purpose; and all interference under 
color of state authority with the exercise of military authority 
under this act, shall be null and void. 

Sec. 4. And be it further enacted. That all persons put under 
military arrest by virtue of this act shall be tried without unneces- 
sary delay, and no cruel or unnecessary punishment shall be in- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 231 

flicted; and no sentence of any military commission or tribunal 
hereby authorized, affecting- the life or liberty of any person, shall 
be executed until it is approved by the officer in command of the 
district ; and the laws and regulations for the government of the 
army shall not be affected by this act except in so far as they con- 
flict with its provisions ; Provided, That no sentence of death un- 
der this act shall be carried into effect without the approval of the 

Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, That when the people of any 
of the said rebel states shall have formed a constitution of gov- 
ernment in conformity with the constitution of the United States 
in all respects, framed by a convention of delegates elected by 
the male citizens of said state twenty-one years old and upward, 
of whatever race or color, or previous condition, who have been 
resident in said state for one year previous to the day of such 
election, except such as may be disfranchised for participation in 
the rebellion or for felony at common law, and when such consti- 
tution shall provide that the elective franchise shall be enjoyed by 
all such persons as have the qualifications herein stated for elec- 
tion of delegates ; and when said constitution shall be ratified by 
a majority of the persons voting on the question of ratification, 
who are qualified as electors for delegates, and when such consti- 
tution shall have been submitted to congress for examination and 
approval and congress shall have approved the same, and when 
said state, by a vote of its legislature elected under said constitu- 
tion, shall have adopted the amendment to the constitution of the 
United States, proposed by the thirty-ninth congress, and known 
as article fourteen, and when said article shall have become a part 
of the constitution of the United States, said state shall be de- 
clared entitled to representation in congress, and senators and rep- 
resentatives shall be admitted therefrom on their taking the oath 
prescribed by law, and then and thereafter the preceding sections 
of this bill shall be inoperative in said state: Provided, That no 
person excluded from the privilege of holding office by said pro- 
posed amendment to the constitution of the United States shall be 
eligible to election as a member of the convention to frame a con- 
stitution for any of said rebel states, nor shall any such person 
vote for members of said convention. 

Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That until the people of said 
rebel states shall be by law admitted to representation in the con- 
gress of the United States, any civil government which may ex- 
ist therein shall be deemed provisional only, and in all respects 
subject to the paramount authority of the United States at any 
time to abolish, modify, control or supersede the same; and in all 

282 Mississippi Historical Society. 

elections to any office under said provisional government, all per- 
sons shall be entitled to vote, and none other, who are entitled to 
vote under the provisions of the fifth section of this act; and no 
person shall be eligible to any office under any such provisional 
governments who would be disqualified from holding office under 
the provisions of the third article of said constitutional' amend- 

The following extracts are quoted from the President's veto 
message showing the scope of the act, and its character and pur- 

-.-* -■-■ w " Washington, March 2nd, 1SG7. 

To the House of Representatives: 

I have examined the bill "to provide for more efficient gov- 
ernment of the rebel states" with the care and anxiety which its 
transcendent importance is calculated to awaken. I am unable 
to give it my assent for reasons so grave that I hope a statement 
of them may have some influence on the minds of the patriotic and 
enlightened men with whom the decision must ultimately rest. 

The bill places all the people of the ten states therein named 
under the absolute domination of military rulers ; and the pream- 
ble undertakes to give the reason upon which the measure is based 
and the ground upon which it is justified. It declares that there 
exists in those states, no legal governments and no adequate pro- 
tection for life or property, and asserts the necessity for enforcing 
peace and good order within their limits. Is this true as matter 

of fact? 


The bill, however, would seem to show upon its face that es- 
tablishment of peace and good order is not its real object. The 
fifth section declares that the preceding sections shall cease to 
operate in any state where certain events shall have happened. 
These events are, first, the selection of delegates to a state con- 
vention by an election at which negroes shall be allowed to vote; 
second, the formation of a state constitution by the convention so 
chosen ; third, the insertion into the state constitution of a pro- 
vision which will secure the right of voting at all elections to ne- 
groes, and to such white men as may not be disfranchised for re- 
bellion or felony ; fourth, the submission of the constitution for 
ratification to negroes and white men not disfranchised, and its 
actual ratification by their vote: fifth, the submission of the state 
constitution to congress for examination and approval, and the 
actual approval of it by that body; sixth, the adoption of a cer- 
tain amendment to the federal constitution by a vote of the legis- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McXeily. 283 

lature elected under the new constitution ; seventh, the adoption 
of said amendment by a sufficient number of other states to make 
it. a part of the constitution of the United Stales. All these con- 
ditions must be fulfilled before the people of any of these states 
can be relieved from the bondage of military domination; but 
when they are fulfilled, then immediately the pains and penalties 
of the bill are to cease, no matter whether there be peace and or- 
der or not, and without any reference to the security of life or 
property. The excuse given for the bill in the preamble, is ad- 
mitted by the bill itself not to be real. The military rule which 
it establishes is plainly to be used not for the purpose of order or 
the prevention of crime, but solely as a means of coercing the 
people into the adoption of principles and measures, to which it 
is known that they were opposed, and upon which they have an 
undeniable right to exercise their own judgment. 

* * * * * * 

The ten states named in the bill are divided into five districts. 
Each such district and officer of the army, not below the rank of 
a brigadier general, is to be appointed to rule over the people; 
and he is to be supported with an efficient military force to en- 

(able him to perform his duties and enforce his authority. Those 
duties and that authority as defined in the third .section of the bill, 
are, "to protect all persons in their rights of person and property, 
to suppress insurrection and disorder and violence, and to pun- 
ish, or cause to be punished all disturbers of the public peace, or 
criminals." The power thus given to the commanding officer 
over the people of each district is that of absolute monarch. His 
mere will is to take the place of all law. The bw of the states 
is now the only rule applicable to the - subject; placed under his 
control, and that is completely displaced by th/: clause which de- 
clares all interference of state authority to fee r.*:~i and void. He 
alone is permitted to determine what are right- A person or prop- 
erty, and he may protect them in such way, g* in his discretion 
may seem proper. It places at his disposal sol the lands and 
goods in his district, and he may distribute th <zn without let or 
hindrance, to whom he pleases. Not being bo*: '. : by state law, and 
there being no other law to regulate the sub; v;:- he may make a 
criminal code of his own; and he can make it a ; bloody as any re- 
corded in history, or he can reserve the privil^e of acting upon 
the impulse of his private passions, in each case 'hat arises. He 
is bound by no rules of evidence; there is, in ,:^~~. no provision by 
which he is required to take any evidence at a.. Everything is a 
crime which he choose to call so, and all per .--.<: i iire condemned 
whom he pronounces guilty. He is not Lou::.-: to keep any rec- 


284 Mississippi Historical Society. 

ord, or make any report of his proceedings. He may arrest his 
victims wherever he finds them, without warrant, accusation or 
proof of probable cause. If he gives them a trial before he in- 
flicts the punishment, he gives it of his grace and mercy and not 
because he is required to do so. Governments closely resembling 
that here proposed have been tried in Hungary and Poland, and 
the suffering endured by those people raised the sympathies of 
the entire world. It was tried in Ireland and though first tem- 
pered by principles of English law, it gave birth to cruelties so 
atrocious that they are never referred to without just indigna- 
tion. * * * I take it to be clear under this bill that the mili- 
tary commander may condemn to death without even the form of 
a trial by a military commission." 

The veto' reached the house on Saturday evening, March the 
2nd, with the expiration of the session so near as twelve on 
Monday the 4th. It was rushed through the house under a 
motion by Mr. Blaine to suspend the rules by a vote of 135 
ayes to 48 noes. It was promptly concurred in by the senate 
by yeas 38 to noes 10. No effort was made to defeat the bill 
by obstruction, which could only have postponed it until the 
new congress which immediately assembled. Argument and 
appeal had been exhausted, the feeling of the opposition being 
most impressively voiced by Senator Doolittle in the following: 

"Never before in my life was there a time when my heart 
would go up and ask Almighty God to give me power to give uN 
terance to the truth, as it goes up now. No such measures were 
ever before presented in an American Congress. What are they? 
Call them by what name you will, they are in substance a decla- 
ration of war against ten States of the Union. They are nothing 
more — they are nothing less. We know, Sir, that the rebellion 
has been suppressed. We know that every armed soldier, from 
the Potomac to the Rio Grande, has surrendered his arms and 
pledged anew his allegiance to the Constitution, the Union and 
the flag. We know that there is not one armed soldier against the 
republic throughout the whole of our vast domain. We know, 
sir, that in those ten States civil governments, in form, have been 
established by the voice of her people, and that with all the ma- 
chinery of their governments they are in full operation. We 
know, sir, that peace has been declared by the authorities of this 
government, pursuant to acts of Congress conferring that au- 
thority. In all the States of this Union peace has come, But, sir, 


Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 285 

what do these bills propose? They propose to open a direct war 
on every form of civil government within these States. They 
propose to supersede and annul them all — to take from all the 
people of these States all voice in the power which is to govern 
them. The bayonet, and the bayonet alone, in the hands of the sol- 
diers, is to be the law of the States. All resistence is to be over- 
come ; and the States are to be taken possession of, and all civil 
institutions are to be subordinated to the bayonet. That is war." 

Having provided a plan of reconstruction upon the basis of 
negro suffrage and the proscription of Southern leaders, the 
39th congress adjourned, passing into history at 12 m. March 
4th, 1867. At the same hour the 40th congress was convened 
in session under an act of the 39th, which is thus explained in 
Blaine's Twenty Years of Congress, page 293, second volume: 
"The contention between the President and congress had 
grown so violent, the mutual distrust had become so complete 
that the latter was unwilling to have its power suspended for 
the customary nine months between the 4th of March, and 1st 
Monday of December." The new congress immediately ad- 
dressed itself to the preparation and passing of a "supplemen- 
tary" reconstruction act. In the original measure the time, 
rules and act of holding of registrations and elections — in which 
the negro was admitted to the suffrage — had been left in the 
officials of the existing state governments, under their military 
commanders respectively. In this respect the bill, was "defec- 
tive," according to Mr. Blaine, because, "from a variety of cir- 
cumstances it had been passed under whip and spur." As per- 
fected by the supplementary bill, the scheme was about as it 
would have been had the Blaine amendment to the original act 
been adopted. All of the operating machinery was supplied in 
the supplementary act directly through the military command- 
ers, who were empowered to appoint the registration and elec- 
tion officials and order all the details leading up to an elec- 
tion not later than September 1st for delegates to state con- 
stitutional conventions. By one of its provisions these officials 
were required to "take and subscribe to the oath prescribed by 
the act of July 2nd, 1862." That oath barred all who had "borne 

286 Mississippi Historical Society. 

arms against the United States, or given 'aid' etc., to persons 
engaged in armed hostility thereto." This was commonly and 
fitly known as the "iron clad oath," passed in time of war. Its 
design was to place the reconstrution machinery in the hands of 
aliens, renegades and negroes. No one who had not been a 
traitor to his state and his people was eligible to election or ap- 
pointment to any office of honor or profit, large or small. In this 
supplementary act congress furthermore retained the power to 
pass upon the fairness and fullness of the elections provided, 
and to exercise final judgment upon the new constitution; 
whether or not in conformity with the reconstruction acts. 

The bill supplementary to the reconstruction act of the preced- 
ing congress — which was commonly styled at the time, "the mili- 
tary act" — was passed March 19th and on the 23rd it was ve- 
toed by the president. Having been proved futile for arresting the 
tide of radicalism which was threatening to overwhelm the 
southern states, the executive resistance had ceased to inspire 
hope. Apathy and despondency was more prevalent at this 
time than it had been during the struggle, sealed in defeat at 
the polls. The following extracts of the veto are quoted as a 
historic survey of the bill and the president's objections. 

This supplemental bill superadds an oath, to be taken by every 
person before his name can be admitted upon the registration, 
that he has not been disfranchised for participation in any rebel- 
lion or civil war against the United States. It thus imposes upon 
every person the necessity and responsibility of deciding for him- 
self, under the peril of punishment by a military commission if he 
makes a mistake, what makes disfranchisement by participation 
in rebellion and what amounts to such participation. 

The fourth section of the bill provides that the commanding 
general of each district shall appoint as many boards of registra- 
tion as may be necessary, consisting of three loyal officers or per- 
sons. The only qualification stated for these officers is that they 
must be loyal ; they may be persons in the military service, or civil- 
ian residents of the state, or strangers; yet these persons are to 
exercise most important duties, and are invested with unlimited 
discretion. They are to decide what names shall be placed upon 
the register, and from their decision there is to be no appeal ; they 
are to superintend the elections and to decide all the questions 


Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 287 

which may arise ; they are to have the custody of the ballots and 
to make return of the persons elected ; whatever frauds or error 
they may commit must pass without redress. All that is left for 
the commanding general is to receive the returns, open the same, 
and ascertain who are chosen according to the return of the of- 
ficers who conducted such elections. 

By such means and with this sort of agency are the conventions 
of delegates to be constituted. As the delegates are to speak for 
the people, common justice would seem to require that they 
should have authority from the people themselves. No conven- 
tion so constituted will, in any sense, represent the wishes of the 
inhabitants of the state ; for under the all-embracing sections of 
these laws, by a construction which the uncertainty of the clause 
as to disfranchisement leaves open to the board of officers, the 
great body of the people may be excluded from the polls and from 
the opportunity of expressing their own wishes or voting for dele- 
gates who will faithfully reflect their sentiments. 

I do not deem it necessary further to investigate the details of 
this bill. No consideration could induce me to give my approval 
to such an election law for any purpose and especially for the 
great purpose of framing the constitution of the state. , 

When I contemplate the millions of our fellow-citizens of the 
South with no alternative left but to impose upon themselves this 
fearful and untried experiment of complete negro enfranchise- 
ment and white disfranchisement (it may be almost complete,) or 
submit indefinitely to the rigor of martial law, without a single at- 
tribute of freemen, deprived of all the sacred guarantees of our 
federal constitution and threatened with even worse wrongs, it 
seems to me their condition is the most deplorable to which any 
people can be reduced. 

In common opinion the passage of the supplemental act over 
the president's veto was held to be the completion of the recon- 
struction scheme. The Republican leaders were more prescient. 
They foresaw that in operation, under the construction admin- 
istration of a hostile executive, the machinery might prove 
defective. Hence, instead of adjourning the session, congress 
took a recess, contingently providing for a reassembling of the 
two houses in July. 

The adjournment of congress with the publication of the 
reconstruction acts was followed in the South by a state of po- 
litical confusion and consternation. Out of this came a babel 

288 Mississippi Historical Society. 

of counsel. Some urged acceptance, affirmative or negative, of 
the "poisoned chalice, commended by an uneven handed justice 
to our lips." Others urged resistance to the limits of the law 
when the question of acceptance of the terms proposed by con- 
gress came up at the polls. Some declared for a test of the law 
in the courts. That policy was led by Judge, and ex-Governor, 
Sharkey, whose request for authority to file a bill of injunction 
in the name of the state against the enforcement of the act was 
granted by Governor Humphreys. The southern leader for ac- 
ceptance of the construction policy was Governor Brown, of 
Georgia, the evil genius of the Confederacy. He lost no time 
in addressing the people, calling on them to put their necks in 
the yoke. This so commended him to the powers that be, that 
he was promptly lifted from the class of disqualified on motion 
of a leading republican senator. The acceptance plan seemed 
destined to win by an overwhelming majority of whites. 
The leading Confederate Generals, Beauregard, Hood, Long- 
street, Hampton and others, joined the civilians of past prom- 
inence in urging it. Gen. Robert E. Lee was conspicuous in 
the agitation by reason of his firm refusal to be quoted. The 
state papers were crowded with signed communications urging 
reasons for acceptance" as the least of evils. This course was 
urged with great persistence and ability by the Jackson Clarion, 
the leading paper in the state, edited by ex-Congressman Ethel 
Barksdale. A lengthy editorial concluded with the following 
submission of the case : 

Let us accept negro suffrage as an inevitable fact, not to be re- 
sented with impotent malice, nor to be treated with stolid indiffer- 
ence. If the new suffragan is unqualified for the important duties 
committed to hirn, it is the part of wisdom that they whose in- 
terests are jnvolvel with his own, should strive to enlighten his 
understanding. We cannot be guiltless of any evil consequences 
which may flow from this last act of a remorseless and cruel 
party, if to avert them we fail to exhaust every effort we are ca- 
pable of making. 

The following from a great lawyer and patriotic citizen is 
chosen for incorporation in this sketch, as the most clear and 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 289 

cogent of all the symposium of counsellors. It was in reply to 
a call upon Judge W. P. Harris for guidance, from a number of 
his fellow citizens of Jackson : 

Jackson, March 12, 1867. 

Gentlemen : — I proceed to reply briefly to your letter of the 
8th inst., requesting my views of the course of action proper to 
be adopted in regard to the recent act of congress providing for 
the government of the Southern states. 

It is to be observed that the act of congress does not leave 
either the extension of the right to suffrage or the disfranchise- 
ment of a certain class of the white citizens of the state to depend 
on our consent. Both these results are accomplished by the act 
and are not demanded of us as concessions. The civil govern- 
ment existing here is declared to be without authority, except to 
the extent that it may be permitted to exercise its functions as an 
instrument of administration, by the district commander. This 
precarious existence cannot be continued without a resort to elec- 
tions and these elections must conform to the principles of the act 
as to qualifications for suffrage, and these qualifications involve 
the disfranchisement of a portion of the white citizens, and the 
extension of the right to vote to all others without regard to race 
or color. Therefore whether we consent or not, no civil govern- 
ment can be created or protracted here, without conforming to 
the principles of the act of congress in these respects. Negro suf- 
frage, therefore, must be regarded as one of the conditions on 
which we are to have civil government here. 

The reorganization of the state government under the provisions 
of the law will inevitably take place. If the white citizens of the 
state whose rights are still preserved to them, (and they comprise 
the great mass of our white population) should decline to co-oper- 
ate in the measures which shall be taken to organize civil govern- 
ment here, their refusal to act will be a virtual surrender of the 
civil power into the hands of those who will surely emp 1 oy it to 
perpetuate their power by further proscriptions. I cannot, after 
the most anxious consideration of the subject, perceive how any 
of the evils of this law can be averted by or how any good can 
possibly result from silent inaction on the part of those who still 
retain their political rights ; on the contrary, it seems to me that 
such a course would be attended with the most injurious conse- 
quences. Even if it should be supposed (and the supposition is 
in my opinion wholly unwarranted) that, by refusing to recognize 
in any manner the authority of congress, we might delay or pre- 
vent the organization of civil government here, we must continue 
to live under a form of government the most odious and oppress- 


i mm , mm 


290 Mississippi Historical Society. 

ive to which mankind have ever been subjected, and with all its 
severities aggravated to us by our attitude of sullen hostility to 
the will of congress. 

A!s the propriety of seeking redress in the Supreme Court has 
been suggested in some quarters, I take the occasion to say, there 
is no power in the Supreme Court at the instance of the state to 
prevent the law from taking effect. I do not see how the state 
government can make a case for judicial action, which can only 
be invoked in controversies about property rights, or at least 
rights and questions, which are not purely political. The power 
of recognizing the existence of a state government has, by that 
court, been held to be a political, and not a judicial question — and 
to pertain to congress; and although a controversy may arise in 
which that court may be called on to decide the validity of some 
of the powers conferred on the miltary commanders, it is a matter 
of grave doubt whether it will ever venture to declare the political 
status of the existing government here, or any that may hereafter 
succeed it; and should the court venture hereafter to do so, its 
decision would not be respected, and it would have no power to 
enforce it. 

With these views of our situation, and under the painful con- 
viction that no favorable change can be reasonably looked for in 
the policy of the government at Washington, I think it is the 
duty of those who still retain their political right, to take an ac- 
tive 1 part in all elections under the new order of things, and to 
give to the suffering people of the state the full w r eight of their in- 
fluence in creating and controlling the government under which 
they are destined to live. I do not know where the power to call 
a state convention will be placed, as that matter is still under dis- 
cussion in congress. When the call shall be made, it ought to be 
responded to Iby every white voter in the state 

Respectfully, your obedient servant, 

W. P. Harris. 

Counsels of expediency fell in with the desponding temper 
of the times. The wish for peace and quiet was all-compelling. 
Their overwhelming defeat at the polls had taken all the fight 
out of the Northern Democrats. Newspaper appeals that the 
South stand on principle rang hollow. They wanted the South- 
ern states to get back as a help to their restoration to power. 
The dream was a natural but vain one. 

Judge Sharkey, eminent as lawyer and jurist, still possessed 
faith in the Supreme Court. In a published interview he thus 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 291 

combatted such view of judicial power as stated by Judge 
Harris : 

"Governor Sharkey regrets the supineness exhibited by many of 
the Southern states and leaders, asserting that in case such 
weakness becomes general the South is lost, and her citizens must 
forever surrender their manhood and self-respect. If there is 
aught of influence in him to prevent it, Mississippi shall not thus 
fold her arms and submit to be manacled and led captive into the 
outer darkness of such a political Egypt. 

"As to the merits of the question sought to be submitted to the 
court, Governor Sharkey entertains no doubt. The constitution, 
he declares, has left nothing for conjecture or mistake on the 
point involved. There can be but one result when entertained by 
the court. If he can get a hearing, if the court will but consent 
to exercise jurisdiction, he has no fears, no misgiving. The truth 
is immutable, and the provisions of the constitution are unmis- 
takable. Hence there is no room for doubt, having all confidence 
in the court, when once before it." 

The ordeal was a trying one and it was but natural that the 
more cautious or less resolute should shrink from it. Appalled 
by rumors and visions of severer inflictions to follow rejection, 
the sentiment for acceptance of the law which it seemed futile 
to resist grew stronger. Among the leaders, especially, waver- 
ing and counsels of expediency was to be noted. Their argu- 
ments addressed to the fears and despair of a conquered and a 
prostrate people were hard to resist. Out of the doubt and dis- 
, trust there loomed up the concrete threat of confiscation. It 
was heralded abroad by the radical press that if the terms 
handed out on the bayonet were refused, congress would pass 
the Stevens confiscation measure, which proposed to portion 
out the land among the negroes and the Union soldiers. The 
following is from the New York Tribune: 

"It is very well understood that bills are in the course of prep- 
aration for early introduction into the next Congress, providing 
for a sweeping confiscation of rebel property in the Southern 
States, and for its distribution among the enfranchised slaves, 
for paying claims of loyal men for property destroyed during 
the war, and for giving farms to Northern soldiers who will 
settle in the South. 

29& Mississippi Historical Society. 

"Mr. Stevens has declared his purpose, 'God willing and he 
living*/ to press such a measure as this upon congress, and Gen- 
eral Banks in debate declared himself in favor of such distribu- 
tion of Southern farms among Northern soldiers as the only 
effectual mode of reconstructing Southern society. r It may safely 
be assumed that the whole body of Radicals in Congress will go 
for such a measure; and it is confidently expected that the rejec- 
tion by the South of the new terms now proposed will create a 
fresh feeling of resentment which will give it popularity and 
strength throughout the North. The measure itself has ele- 
ments of attraction for many classes, and is expected to secure 
the support of the soldiers in a body. 

"It may be supposed that the Supreme Court will present a 
final barrier against the ultimate success of such a project. But 
it must be remembered that four members of that court out of 
nine would now, beyond all doubt, endorse such a measure, and 
that of the five who would oppose it, one, if not two, will prob- 
ably never sit on the bench in consequence of extreme age and 
illness. A law was passed, moreover, at the last session, which 
declares that in case of the death of a Supreme Court Judge, the 
vacancy shall not be filled until the whole number of fudges shall 
have been reduced by death or otherwise, to seven. The chances/ 
are, therefore, that within the next year the Supreme Court of 
the United States will be as thoroughly in the hands of the Rad- 
icals as Congress." 

General Grant, in General Orders No. 10, published for the 
information and government of all concerned, the act to pro- 
vide for the more efficient government of the rebel States, and 
concluded as follows : 

"In pursuance of this act, the President directs that the fol- 
lowing assignments be made : 

"First District — The State of Virginia to be commanded bv 
Brevet Major General J. M. Schofield, Headquarters, Richmond. 

"Second District — Consisting of the States of North Caro- 
lina and South Carolina — To be commanded by Major General 
D. E. Sickles.— -Headquarters, Columbia, South Carolina. 

"Third District— Consisting of the States of Georgia. Florida 
and Alabama — To be commanded by Major General George H. 
Thomas. Headquarters, Montgomery, Alabama. 

"Fourth District — Consisting of the States of Mississiopi and 
Arkansas, to be commanded by Brevet Major General E. O. C 
Ord, with headquarters at Vicksburg. 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 293 

"Fifth District — Consisting of the States of Louisiana and 
Texas, to be commanded by Major General P. H. Sheridan, with 
headquarters at New Orleans/' 

The appointment of the military governors of the five dis- 
tricts, was the first executive step under the law that was to 
carry home despair and disorder — sow more enduring seeds 
of demoralization and destruction in the South than four years 
of bloody war. Mississippi and Arkansas had been made the 
fourth military districts. Gen. E. O. C. Ord was named com- 
mander, with his headquarters at Vicksburg. He had won 
honor and distinction in the war and had risen to the com- 
mand of an army corps. Gen. A. C. Gillem, who had succeeded 
Gen. Wood in command in Mississippi, was so continued under 
Gen. Ord. In the few weeks that intervened after the appoint- 
ment of the district commanders and the supplemental act tight- 
ening the screws and supplying the details of the election to be 
held, time was afforded for close scrutiny and study of the 
scheme — time in which to discover defects, to see that all the 
wheels were greased for smooth running and thorough work. 
In the meanwhile the sword of Damocles hung suspended in 
plain view, that the victims might take in all of its revolting 
inflictions. Going far beyond the worst of apprehensions, trib- 
ulation and fear arose, threatening despair. 

Vicksburg, Miss., March 26th, 1867. 
General Orders No. 1. 

I. The undersigned having been appointed by the President 
to command the Fourth Military District, consisting of the States 
of Mississippi and Arkansas, hereby assumes command thereof. 

II. Competent civil officers in this District are expected to 
arrest and punish all offenders against the law, so as to obviate, 
as far as possible, necessity for the exercise of military author- 
ity under the law of Congress, passed March 2d, 1SG7, creating 
Military Districts. 

III. Such other orders as may become necessary to carry out 
the above named act, and an act supplementary thereto, will be 
duly published. 

E. O. C. Ord, 
Br'vt Maj. & Brig. Gen, U. S. A: 

294 ^ Mississippi Historical Society. 

To allay the confusion and consternation that was oppress- 
ing . the people, Gov. Humphreys, whose inflexible devotion to 
right principles was unshaken by shadows of impending calam- 
ities, issued a proclamation, April 6th, 18G7, calling on the civil 
authorities to continue to perform their duties. He stated that 
while "the military bill declared the existing civil government 
to be provisional only, and in all respects subject to the para- 
mount authority of the United States, at any time to abolish, 
modify, control or supersede the same, such civil government 
was recognized. And the civil authorities would be held to a 
strict accountability in the performance of their duties. He 
farther "advised and admonished all good citizens to sustain 
the civil authorities — to deal justly and indulgently with each 
other and in their political helplessness to devote themselves 
to pursuits of industries and the necessaries of life." This 
counsel was w r ise and timely. Unlike some others of his- sta- 
tion Gov. Humphreys neither sought to avert disfavor by hurry- 
ing his state into adoption of the congressional plan, nor in- 
terposed a vain obstructiveness to the inevitable order of 

Upon assuming command of his district, Gen. Ord set about 
acquainting himself with the situation he was ordered to deal 
with and control. It is no more than just to record that con- 
sidering its most repugnant and perplexing nature, his orders 
were as far as possible divested of harsh or hostile execution. 
The assignment was an odious one at best for the true soldier. 

Soon after taking charge of his district, he visited the state 
capitol and established an amicable and honorable modus vi- 
vendi with the provisional governor. He sought diligently and 
fairly to gather information concerning the affairs and feelings 
of the people of the state, the status of relations between the 
races. Having thus acquainted himself he made a report to 
the commander and chief of the army, Gen. Grant, from which 
the following is quoted : 

"The extension of suffrage to freedmen has evidently aroused 
a sentiment of hostility to the colored race and to northern men 
in many parts of this district which did not exist before, and 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 295 

from information derived from ex-officers of the Union army, 
planting in the interior, I am convinced that a larger force than 
is now stationed in the states of my district to preserve order 
and organize conventions will be required hereafter to protect 
them, and to secure the freedmen in the use of the suffrage. In 
a majority of the counties of my district there are but very few 
men who can take the test oath, and these are 'not disposed to 
defy public opinion by accepting office unless supported by a 
military force afterward. The will of the colored people may 
be in favor of supporting loyal officeholders, but their intelli- 
gence is not now sufficient to enable them to combine for the 
execution of their will. All their combinations are now con- 
ducted by white men under the protection of the military. If 
this protection is withdrawn the white men now controlling would 
generally withdraw with it, and some of the Southern people, 
now exasperated at what they deem the freedmen's presumption, 
would not be gentle toward them; so that the presence of a 
larger military force will be required for some time to maintain 
the freedman in the possession of the right of suffrage." 

This report which was adopted and incorporated in his re- 
port to the secretary of war by Gen. Grant, deserves place in 
all reconstruction history, as the unbiased testimony of an hon- 
est soldier, of the ground on which the fruits of negro enfran- 
chisement was to be grown. It tells of the pre-existing ami- 
cable race relations, which were so quickly supplanted by "a 
sentiment of hostilty to the colored race and Northern men 
which did not exist before." Read between the lines, it tes- 
tifies to the absolute unfitness of the negro to the exercise of 
full political privileges, and the partisan punitive design at the 
bottom of the congressional project. The facts of the con- 
dition convinced Gen. Ord of the predestined failure of the re- 
construction law, unless enforced by the military. Obnox- 
ious as such a reprehensible policy was to the United States 
troops, Gen. Ord was in the strict line of his duties in asking 
for a strong enough force, to anticipate and prevent violent re- 
sistance. He sought to carry out his order with as much con- 
sideration to the people of the state as was permitted to him. 
On April 15th, he issued an order noted herewith, in line of the 
proclamation of Governor Humphreys above referred to, de- 

296 Mississippi Historical Society. 

fining the status of the provisional government and the duties 
of the civil officials. He used the occasion for addressing 
wholesome and well timed advice to the freedmen. It was im- 
pressed upon them that their most important duty was to labor 
for a livelihood and not to neglect their work for 'politics. This 
was good seed but it fell on stony ground — it had no more than 
sprouted before -it was burned up by the evil political heat that 

Vicksburg, Miss, April 15, 'G7. 
General Orders No. 5. 

I. No elections will hereafter be held in Mississippi or Ar- 
kansas to fill vacancies existing or occurring in offices of the pro- 
visional governments of those States, until a registration of 
voters is made. Officers of the provisional State governments who 
may have been by statute law competent to make appointments 
'to fill vacancies occurring before the passage of the reconstruc- 
tion Act, passed March 2d, 1SGT, where vacancy may exist or 
occur, which it is important to have filled, are requested to notify 
the General Commanding, and he, who is responsible that tjie re- 
quirements of that law be complied with, will make the necessary 
appointment to fill the vacancy, until an election for that pur- 
pose can be held under the law. 

II. Local civil officers of existing provisional governments of 
the States of Arkansas and Mississippi will continue in the per- 
formance of their duties until the expiration of the terms of 
their offices, unless otherwise directed in special cases, or until 
their successors may be appointed or elected in .accordance with 
the Act of Congress to provide for the more efficient government 
of tthe rebel States, passed March 2d, 186?. 

III. The most important duty devolving upon freedmen in 
their new condition, is that of providing by their own labor for 
the support of themselves and families. They now have a com- 
mon interest in the general prosperity. This prosperity does 
not depend so much on how men vote, as upon how well each 
member of society labors and keeps his contracts. Freedmen 
are therefore urged not to neglect their business to engage in po- 
litical discussions, but continue to comply with their contracts 
and provide for themselves and families, for unless 'they do so, 
a famine may come and they will have no food. When the time 
comes for them to have their names entered in the books of 
voters, which will be before next September, the General Com- 
manding will send them word through proper United States or 
county officers and send the books to places near by their homes, 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 297 

so that every voter can have his name registered and can after- 
wards vote without going far from his home. Only those re- 
siding in 'towns will be registered or vote there. 
By command of 

Brevet Maj. Gen. Ord. 

The first act in the reconstruction drama by the military 
Governors was the organization of county boards for the regis- 
tration of voters ; regardless of race or color. The act of March 
2nd had left the operation of this function in the provisional 
civil officials. They were required to register the voters and 
hold the elections for delegates for the constitutional conven- 
tions, under the surveillance of the military Governors. In its 
original shape the congressional plan, tendered as a finality, 
did not contemplate the carpet bagger. But the act of March 
19th provided for the appointment of registers by the military 
commanders who should be required to subscribe to the test 
oath of 1862 which debarred from office all who had borne arms 
against the United States, or had voluntarily given encourage- 
ment or aid to the Confederate cause. It was possessed of the 
design and the effect of excluding all representative citizens 
from part in the new ordination of government. Under its re- 
strictions the boards of county registers were constituted, as a 
rule, of two aliens and one resident. In the most of the coun- 
ties, as eligible material was difficult to find, strangers to the 
people were imported, and in some cases so hard was it to find 
a native to take the oath, that negroes were appointed. There 
is no reason to doubt that the military commander did the best 
he could with the material at hand. It w r as a job, however, 
that was not attractive to honest men. Among the ex-Union 
soldiers and Northern men who offered for the work, "lewd fol- 
lowers of the baser sort" were most available and fittest. And 
thus was initiated the destruction of representative govern- 
ment and the conversion of the Southern states into a spawn 
of carpet baggers and scalawags. 

The order that started the ball rolling, "Special No. 15, April 
15," is quoted from : 

298 Mississippi Historical Society. 

V. A Board of Officers is hereby appointed to meet at these 
headquarters from day to day for the purpose of dividing the 
State of Mississippi into Election Districts, to effect a more com- 
plete registration of voters of the State, as provided in the act 
^of Congress "to provide for the more efficient government of 
the Rebel States" and "an act supplementary thereto." 

The Board will also examine applications for the position of 
register — correspond with the most prominent and reliable Union 
men of the State — obtain all reliable data possible and there- 
upon recommend applicants to the Commanding General for ap- 
pointment in each of the Districts proposed to be established. 

As it is important that none but loyal men should be appointed 
as registers, the Board will record in each case its reasons for 
recommending appointment. 

In case there are no applicants for the appointment of regis- 
ter in any proposed Election District, the Board will report the 
fact and also what course it considers advisable to take to se- 
cure the appointment of the proper person for the office. 


Brevet Major General Alvan C. Gillem, Col. 24th U. S. In- 
fantry. * ! 

Brevet Col. Joseph R. Smith, Surgeon U. S. Army, Medical 
Director of the District. 

Major O. D. Greene, Adjutant General's Department. 

Capt. and Bvt. Maj. Charles A. Wickorl, 24th Infantry, Re- 
corder, j 

The above order with its declaration that "none but loyal 
men" were eligible as registrars, was an educational eye-opener. 
While in accordance with the Republican policy, and the law, 
good citizenship defined under that shibboleth was a lurid light 
on the future. Thenceforth as known by its application, "loy- 
alty" became a term of loathing. And with its coinage, as a 
test, the current that had been running so strong for an honest 
acceptance of the repugnant terms, was checked. All began 
to realize that there w r as nothing to be gained by their volun- 
tary and apparently willing acceptance. The Vicksburg Herald 
which had been among the most forward and pronounced for 
that policy said in comment upon the order: 

"The suddenness of the appointments, and that too in Gen. 
Ord's absence, and the manner in which they propose to dis- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 299 

charge their responsible duties, has completely destroyed any 
confidence the people may have entertained that justice will be 
done them. It is palpable that the registry is opened for party 
purposes, and that come what will these partisan ends must be 
accomplished. It matters little whether Southern people regis- 
ter or vote. The tender of the privilege is the merest mock- 
ery. The Radical minority want to control this State ; the fiat 
has gone forth, and to secure the end neither right, justice nor 
law will be allowed to interfere. 

Events of sinister import soon followed. Meetings ad- 
dressed by native white men of prominence urging political 
organization upon the basis of race unity, were closely suc- 
ceeded by calls for a republican color line party. Such baneful 
activity was thus commented upon by the Herald of April 
13th: , 

"The 'Union leaguers' are at work in our midst, endeavoring 
to stir up the colored voters to animosities against their white 
friends, thereby creating a conflict between the races. This or- 
ganization is a secret cabal, which meets and transacts its busi- 
ness in by-ways, shut out from the light of intelligent or virtu- 
ous scrutiny. They profess to have all the loyalty and patriot- 
ism in this section, and it is through their agency that the basest 
slanders of their fellow-citizens are concocted for the Washing- 
ton market. 

If we would defeat these mendicant adventurers, we must lose 
no time in inaction. It is known that the respectable original 
Union men are bitterly opposed to them, and will not co-operate 
with the faction that is swayed by it. It is known that many re- 
spectable colored people are of the same mind. By combining 
with these two elements and sinking as much as is possible all by- 
gone animosities, differences, and prejudices, it is in our power to 
prevail in the elections over the dangerous faction that is seeking 
to perpetuate all the passions of war. It requires no reasoning to 
show the supreme folly of divided action among those who op- 
pose this faction. Such action would involve defeat to all, and 
the triumph of that faction. To live under such a government 
as they w r ould inaugurate, would be disgrace and torture. Yet 
to such degradation and torture we will doom ourselves if we 
take counsel of false pride, wrong reason, and blind passion. We 
can escape it, and it is our aim to do so and to persuade others 
to follow our example." 

300 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Specious but fallacious reasoning. All roads led "to degrada- 
tion and torture." So called "false pride and blind passion" 
were as good counsellors across the thorny plain the southern 
people were doomed to tramp as any. "The loyal leagues" 
with their instillation of distrust and hate of 'the old master 
class was a vortex into which the f reedmen were drawn by a force 
resistless as fate. An impassable gulf was dug through a cun- 
ning contrivance of oaths and incantations between the races. 
Sink his race pride, his loathing of negro equality, ever so deep, 
the white man could not fathom it. 

Under all tutelage of political agitators, there was turbulence 
that merged upon or ran into violence in a number of the south- 
ern states. As expressed by the New York Herald : 

"Before the reconstruction acts w r ere passed we heard of out- 
rages in the south upon the negroes. Now we hear of outrages 
committed by the negroes. In the administration of their au- 
thority certain of the military commanders taught the negroes 
insolence and malice by treating the whites as' a proscribed 
race. General Daniel E. Sickles was an instructor in such les- 
sons. As an illustration of his petty tyranny which illustrated 
his record, observing the firemen's parade in Charleston, he re- 
quired it to halt until an American flag could be procured 
which he, Gessler like, required every fireman to salute." 
"There was nothing," said the Chicago Times, "to indicate that 
the firemen intended any disrespect to the flag or the govern- 
ment. Requiring them to do what was contrary to the general 
custom, Sickles proved that the National government was a 
despotism. He chose the best method he could to make the 
flag hateful and to prove himself a petty, narrow-minded ty- 
rant controlled by a contemptible vanity which led him to 
play fantastic tricks," 

A number of Republican Congressmen came down South 
to engage in the work of stirring up the negro voters to politi- 
cal activity. Representative W. D. Kelly, of Pennsylvania, 
was the most effective. Wherever he spoke, cain was raised. 
His address in Mobile was attended by rioting in which a po- 
liceman and several negroes were killed. In Richmond, Gen- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 301 

eral Schofield was forced to order the disbandment of the negro 
militia. He called certain negro strife breeders before him and 
told them in plain terms that the next one of their riotous meet- 
ings would be dispersed by artillery. General Mower, who 
commanded the post in New Orleans, being defied by a, body 
of turbulent negroes he had ordered off the streets, threatened 
them with artillery. The especial occasion of the trouble in 
New Orleans was over the street cars which the negroes 
claimed the right to ride in. Their claim was subsequently 
granted by military~order though they were denied the right 
of entry into restaurant and confectionery. 

While General Ord could not, if he would, have retarded the 
rising tide of race hostilit^r and strife, he did nothing beyond 
the letter of the law to promote it or to make the yoke heavier 
on the whites. Upon the contrary, while other district com- 
manders were harsh in their demeanor and interpretation of 
what was required of them, it was the rule of the commander 
of the fourth district "to temper justice with mercy. " Th ere 
were ambiguities of expression in the law concerning the reg- 
istration of voters which were referred to the secretary of war 
for instruction and by him to the attorney general. There was 
delay in his opinion, pending which General Grant directed 
Sheridan to act according to his own construction, which was a 
harsh one. General Ord directed the registrars to register all 
who claimed the right to register, making notes of those that 
were questionable to be passed upon when the attorney gen- 
eral was heard from. The oath of registration is quoted: 

"I, , do solemnly swear or (affirm), in the presence of Al- 
mighty God, that I am a citizen of the state of ; that I have 

resided in said state for months next preceding this day, and 

now reside in the county of . or parish of , in said state, 

as the case may be ; that I am twenty-one years old ; that I have 
not been disfranchised for participation in any rebellion or civil 
war against the United States, nor for felony committed against 
the laws of any state or of the United States ; that I have never 
been a member of any state legislature, nor held any executive or 
judicial office in any state, and afterwards engaged in insurrec- 
tion or rebellion against the United States, and given aid or com- 

302 Mississippi Historical Society. 

fort to the enemies thereof : that I have never taken an oath as a 
member of congress of the United States, or as a member of any 
state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, 
to support the constitution of the United States, and afterwards 
engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or 
given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof; that I will faithfully 
support the constitution and obey the laws of the United States, 
and will, to the best of my ability, encourage others so to do ; so 
help me God." 

May 24th, Attorney General Stansberry made his ruling 
upon questions under the two reconstruction acts, upon which 
military commanders of some of the districts had asked instruc- 
tion; settling disputes as to who were and who were not en- 
titled to vote in the coming election. The opinion was very 
long — containing over 10,000 words. Under Gen. Ord's com- 
mon sense construction it had little interest in Mississippi. In 
the following less than a dozen lines he had settled all disputes 
and in general harmony with the Attorney General's interpre- 
tation : > 

"If you were ever appointed to office by the President of the 
United States: were ever a governor, a congressman, a judge, or 
a member of the legislature, and then took arms on the C. S. side, 
you need not call on the registrars — you can't vote. All others 
can — if they will." 

While the Attorney General's ruling did not disturb the 
modus vivendi already set up in Gen. Ord's district, they oper- 
ated as a restraint upon other commanders ; especially General 
Sheridan, who had been directed by Gen. Grant to proceed un- 
der his own drastic interpretation pending the promulgation 
from the Attorney General. General Ord simply issued a cir- 
cular of instruction to the Boards of Registration enjoining 
upon them not to refuse registration in "doubtful cases," but 
refer them to headquarters. In this circular the following 
were given as clearly disqualified within the act: 

V. The following officers in this district are regarded as clearly 
included within the terms executive or judicial officers of any 
state, viz. : Governors, secretaries of state, auditors, state treas- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 303 

urers, attorney generals, judges of the supreme court, of the high 
court of appeals, chancellors, judges of the circuit court, judges 
or justices of county courts, sheriffs, coroners, and adjutants gen- 
eral and quartermasters general who have actually exercised the 
duties and received the salaries of their offices, and mayors author- 
ized to act in a judicial capacity. 

In this same month of May two events of especial interest in 
Mississippi had occurred, the release of Mr. Davis on bail, and 
the Supreme Court's refusal of the injunction against the re- 
construction acts. Both happening on the same day, they 
were thus stated with significant brevity in the Vicksburg 
Herald, of May 11th : 

Release of Jefferson Davis — It will be seen by our tele- 
grams, that Jefferson Davis was yesterday released, his bail being 
fixed at $100,000. Among his bondsmen, the most nrominent are 
Horace Greeley and Augustus Schell, of New York. 

The Injunctions Refused — The Supreme Court of the 
United States has refused to grant the injunctions prayed for bv 
the state of Mississippi against General Ord, and the state of 
Georgia against General Pope, on the ground of want of juris- 

The signing of the Davis bond by Horace Greeley, the fa- 
mous abolitionist and editor of the New York Tribune, at- 
tracted wide attention and comment. By Southern papers Mr. 
Greeley was praised for his magnanimity. Among the Northern 
radicals he was bitterly assailed as a traitor to his negrophile 
professions. He made a summons to appear before the Union 
League Club, the occasion of a letter of justification and defi- 
ance, which is among the best remembered of all the products 
of a pen that have won national fame. The editorial introduc- 
ing it, while far less noted, is more significant as a marker of 
the Reconstruction record. In that article he turned back two 
years to the assassination of Lincoln, and his use of that ca- 
lamity as a text for an appeal for a cessation of sectional strife. 
The effect of that appeal was told as follows : 

At once insidious efforts were set on foot to turn the fury then 
engendered against me because of my pertinacious advocacy of 
mercy to the vanquished. 

304 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Chancing to enter the club house, the next Saturday evening, 
I received a full broadside of your scowls, ere we listened to a 
clerical harangue intended to prove that Mr. Lincoln had been 
providentially removed because of his notorious leaning towards 
clemency, in order to make way for a successor who would 
give the rebels a full measure of stern justice. I was soon made 
to comprehend that I had no sympathizers, or none who dared 
seem such, in your crowded assemblage, and some maladroit ad- 
mirer having a few days afterward made the club a present of 
my portrait, its bare reception was resisted in a speech from the 
chair by your then president — a speech whose vigorous invective 
was justified solely by my pleading for clemency to the rebels. 

At once a concerted howl of denunciation and raee was sent 
up from every side against me by the little creature^ whom God, 
for some inscrutable purpose, permits to edit a majority of our 
minor journals, echoed by a yell of "stop my paper," from thous- 
ands of imperfectly instructed readers of the Tribune. One im- 
pudent puppy wrote me to answer categorically whether I was or 
was not in favor of hanging Jeff Davis, adding that I must stop 
his paper if I were not. Scores volunteered assurances that I 
was defying public opinion ; that most of my readers were against 
rile, as if I could be induced to write what they wished said, rather 
than what they needed to be told. I never before realized so viv- 
idly the baseness of the editorial vocation, according to the vul- 
gar conception of it. 

The din raised about my ears now is nothing to what T then 
endured and despised. I am 'humiliated by the reflection that it 
is or was in the power of such insects to annoy me, even by pre- 
tending to discover with surprise something that I have for years 
been publicly and emphatically proclaiming. 

As the failure of the supreme court to annul the reconstruc- 
tion acts had been anticipated, its decision occasioned little dis- 
appointment or surprise. Furthermore it was felt that if the 
ruling had been different congress, which had only recessed, 
would pass another act of equal or greater repugnance. Com- 
menting, The Jackson Clarion said: "The dismissal of the in- 
junction cases will cause no surprise to our readers. The con- 
clusive opinions which have been published in the columns of 
the Clarion from the pens of Judges Harris, Yerger and other 
eminent leading gentlemen, have left little ground for the in- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 305 

diligence of the belief that the supreme court would take cog- 
nizance of the questions involved." 

Nevertheless, according to the uncontradicted Washington 
press dispatches the supreme court stood four to four on the 
case, and had Justice Grier not absented himself the injunction 
would have been granted. No division was recorded, how- 
ever, the chief justice merely announcing that: "He was in- 
structed by the court to deliver its decision and to dismiss the 
case for want of jurisdiction." The court's decision applying 
to the Georgia case which was similar to the one from Missis- 
sippi, both cases were covered under it. Applications to 
amend the Mississippi bill filed by Judge Sharkey and other 
counsel for the state, including ex-senator and ex-secretary of 
the treasury and ex-attorney general, Robert J. Walker, was 
dismissed by the same vote of four to four, Justice Grier absent- 
ing himself. 

An odious and an ominous incident was contributed to the 
argument of the case by Attorney-General Stanberry. He took 
occasion in illustration of the power of congress to point out 
"several ways in which congress could abolish the supreme 
court, and that if such action was sustained by the people there 
was no remedy." With the memory yet fresh of the denuncia- 
tions and threats against the court, by Stevens and other radi- 
cal leaders in congress, for its decision in the Milligan case, the 
leminder created a most unfavorable impression. At the head 
of the attorneys for Georgia, was Mr. Charles O'Connor of 
New York, the most eminent lawyer probably, of his day. 
Replying to the words of the attorney general quoted, Mr. 
O'Connor said : 

"By repealing old laws and by enacting new ones, we do not 
deny that congress might completely paralyze the functions of 
this court, and essentially deprive it of any capacity to administer 
justice. But it .is no argument, when we come into this court 
and ask it to exercise its power within its legitimate sphere under 
the constitution, to say that violent, lawless, revolutionary meas- 
ures, involving a violation on the part of the other departments, 
might by possibility be induced by its proceedings, and therefore 
that it should refrain from performing its duty. Quite the con- 


306 Mississippi Historical Society. 

trary ; it is only for the court to see that it has a duty to be per- 
formed, and to perform it." 

Nevertheless, the justices were but men, living in a turbu- 
lent and a demoralized time. And no student of its history- 
can reach any other conclusion than this : that had the court 
stood between the radical wolves and their prey, it would 
have been brushed aside even as the constitution and all prin- 
ciples of justice and standards of statesmanship had been swept 

As the season advanced the condition of the state indus- 
trially, the promise of a better agricultural outcome than in the 
preceding disastrous years, grew worse. "A wretched rainy 
season," reported the Woodville Republican in June, "has 
been ruining crop prospects for the last ten days. It is so far 
last year over again ; the experience of getting hopelessly in 
the grass being repeated. The practice should be different. 
If the error of 1856, of neglecting the corn crop to save the 
cotton, he repeated the Lord only knows where the country 
will land." Such items with ensuing reports of the reappear- 
ance of the army worm appeared in all the papers of the state. 
In the Delta the planting prospects were very gloomy. There 
was the most disastrous overflow in twenty years, entailing a 
late planting with all its adverse incidents. The army worm, 
which had been destructive the previous year, appeared in 
myriads, a fit companion for the reconstruction plague senc 
upon the land by congress. Planters were being harassed to 
the last degree by orders and regulations based upon the com- 
plaints of negro talebearers. General order No. 19 recited "on 
creditable information, the land owners were, without legal 
cause for frivolous pretext, driving off labor to withhold 
arrears of wages or share of crops." Freedman's Bureau 
commissioners were directed and empowered to investigate 
such causes, and bring offenders to trial. They were ordered 
to prevent removal of the growing crops, until disputes of the 
previous year had been settled. As the crop was being grown 
under the prior lien for supplies advanced, the injustice of such 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 307 

an order, and the confusion to which it led will be readily per- 
ceived. Though the evil was minimized in the river section, 
where the crop was lost any way, through overflows, bad sea- 
sons, army worms and political demoralization. Except when 
under the constraint of carrying out the reconstruction act 
General Ord spared no effort to ameliorate the economic dis- 
tress of the people. This became so acute that he issued the 
following well meant but largely futile order: 

Vicksburg, Miss., June 12, 1867. 
General Orders No. 12. 

With a view to secure to labor in this district, its hire or just 
share of the crops, as well as to protect the interests alike of debt- 
ors and creditors from sacrifices of property by forced sales in 
the present impoverished condition of the country, it is ordered 
that all proceedings for the sale of land under cultivation, or of 
the crops, stock, farming utensils or other material, used in till- 
ing such lands, in pursuance of any execution, writ or order of 
sale issued, in base where the debt or other cause of civil action 
was contracted or accrued, prior to the first day of January, 1866, 
be stayed and suspended until after the thirtieth day of Decem- 
ber, 1867. In the meantime all interferences, under color of any 
such legal process with the lawful tenant in cultivating or gather- 
ing the growing crops, is prohibited ; provided that the rights or 
remedies for a recovery of debts, at any time, of parties to whom 
the crops have been hypothecated, for money stock, or other 
means or material, supplied in the cultivation of the land, shall 
not be hereby prejudiced or postponed. 

How r ever well meant, the order quoted below was mischiev- 
ous and demoralizing in the last degree. In seeking the cor- 
rection of "mistaken ideas," in teaching the negro his rights, 
they were led into the indulgence of distorted and exaggerated 
impressions of liberty and license that were carried to an ex- 
tent that was both demoralizing and dangerous. 

Vicksburg, Miss., June 20th, 1867. 
General Orders, No. 16. 

As mistaken ideas on the subject of registering and voting may 
be spread or arise among the freedmen in this district, which, if 
not corrected, would tend to prevent them from registering and 
voting, subdistrict commanders will direct the agents of the Bn- 

308 Mississippi Historical Society. 

reau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands to visit every 
important plantation within their reach and instruct the freedmen 
upon these points. They and the registrars will inform freedmen 
that the registration, where their names have to be entered and 
an oath taken, is not for the purpose of imposing any tax, or 
hoMing them to any military or other service, but simply to en- 
able them to share equally with the white men in the privilege of 
choosing who shall hold office in the county, state and United 
States wherein they reside, and that unless they register, they 
may be deprived of this privilege. 

Whenever freedmen are interfered with, threatened, or de- 
prived of any advantage, place or hire, on account of their regis- 
tering or showing a wish to register, they will be informed that 
it is their duty to report such interference or deprivation, so that 
the party offending may be dealt with according to law. Regis- 
trars and officers of the army throughout this district will report 
all such offenders to the assistant adjutant general at these head- 
quarters, with the names of witnesses, dates and places given 
carefully, so that the offense may be punished. 

By command of Brevet Major General Ord. 

O. D. Greene, 
Assistant Adjutant General. 

The attorney general's construction of the acts of recon- 
struction was soon followed up by an opinion upon the power 
of the district commanders in the removal of state officials and 
appointments to fill vacancies so created ; the question arising 
out of General Sheridan's removal of Governor Wells of Louis- 
iana and the appointment of a successor. 

"I find it impossible,' 1 read the opinion, "under the provi- 
sions of this act to comprehend such an official as the governor 
of one of these states appointed by one of these military com- 
manders * * * What is true as to the governor is equally 
true as to all other legislative, executive and judicial officers of 
the state. If the military commander can oust one from his 
office, he can oust them all. If he can fill one vacancy, he can 
fill all and thus usurp all civil jurisdiction * * * certainly 
this act is vigorous enough in the power it gives. With all its 
severity the right of electing their own officers is still left with 
the people and it must be preserved. * * * The proper 
function of military power is to preserve the peace, to act prompt- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 309 

ly when the peace is broken and restore order * * * this 
in my judgment, is the whole scope of the military power con- 
ferred by the act." This opinion, clear in an interpretation 
that, as far as possible, made such an act compatible with the 
institutions of the country and the liberties of the people, was 
qualified so as not to apply in case of actual insurrection or a 
riot. ' | 

Upon complaints of citizens of Louisiana that a sufficient time 
has not been given for registration, the president tentatively 
requested General Sheridan to extend the time to August first. 
This provoked a letter from General Sheridan to General Grant 
from which the following is quoted: 

"The registration will be completed in Louisiana at the time 
specified unless I am ordered to carry out the law under General 
Stanberry's interpretation, which practically, in registration, 
opens a broad macadamized road for perjury * * * I regret 
that I should have to differ with the President, but it must be rec- 
ollected that I have been ordered to execute a law an which he 
had looked with bitter antagonism. 

The president's feelings on reading this mutinous utterance 
may be imagined. Doubtless for expediency's sake to avoid 
an open rupture with General Grant who was fatuously devoted 
to General Sheridan, it was passed over for the time. Referring 
to the two opinions of the attorney general of May 24th and June 
12th Mr. Blaine says in "Twenty Years in Congress :" 

"They in many respects neutralized the force both of the orig- 
inal and supplementary acts of reconstruction. * * * Repub- 
lican leaders felt therefore not only justified in the precautions 
they had taken to keep the power of congress alive, but esteemed 
it particularly fortunate they could so promptly prevent general 
effects which might otherwise flow from the unfriendly construc- 
tion of the attorney general." 

How the clash was looked on by the radicals can be read in 
the following from The New York Tribune, editor Horace 
Greeley perhaps welcoming it as the chance to recover favor 
and subscribers lost by putting his name to the Davis bond. 

"Above all, 'and here we approach the crime of the opinion. 
This is not the construction intended by congress, and accepted 

310 Mississippi Historical Society. 

by the administration and the country in this respect. The attor- 
ney general is dishonest; he is a partisan endeavoring to prepare 
the country for a great wrong. We are afraid we cannot trust 
the President. He seems to have the fatal faculty of blundering ; 
of getting himself and his friends into trouble, of bringing peril 
to the country. Nothing seems to annoy him so much as peace. 
We believe he means, if he dares, to strike a blow at the recon- 
struction policy of congress, and bring up from the pit of sin and 
iniquity the shameless policy by which he sought to deprive a 
race of its dearly earned rights. We must show him that he dare 
not. Congress should assemble in July and address itself again 
to reconstruction. We must make this bill so plain that even 
Stanberry may understand it, and so comprehensive that the Pres- 
ident cannot escape its execution. We regret that the adminis- 
tration has forced another issue upon the country. We must 
promptly meet it." 

And yet the Attorney General had but interpreted certain 
provisions of the law in response to questions submitted by 
some of the district commanders, for their enlightenment in 
administering them. Gens. Ord and Schofield practiced a lib- 
eral construction of the proscriptions of the law, and were ha- 
bitually liberal in the exercise of their authority. The others, 
Sheridan, Sickles and Pope were by nature despots. Wholly 
wanting in statesmanship or magnanimity, they looked on the 
Southern people as rebels to be tyrannized over and kept down. 
While the issue grew more distinctly out of Sheridan's usur- 
pations, Sickles and Pope were quite as great offenders against 
the law and the rights of the people of their districts. 

Sickles, the civilian and Democrat, was the worst of them. 
He was thus described true to life by Attorney General Stan- 
berry: ''He placed himself upon a higher ground than the pres- 
ident who was but an executive officer. He assumes directly 
and indirectly all the authority of the state, legislative, execu- 
tive and judicial." General Pope had been appointed to suc- 
ceed General Thomas in the Georgia, Florida and Alabama dis- 
tricts. According to Blaine "he was aggressively loyal. He 
administered the reconstruction laws, therefore, in their full 
spirit and equity. He insisted on fair dealing and suppressed 
all interference with voters by the late Rebels." The hero of 


Mississippi's Provisional Government — McXeily. 311 

the second Bull Run proved himself "aggressively loyal" on 
all occasions. For instance, he proposed that "opposition to 
the reconstruction policy of ex-confederate soldiers should be 
treated as a violation of their paroles," and according to the 
press dispatches, General Grant indorsed the proposition. 

Seeking an excuse for the tyrant of the Carolinas, Blaine 
places this absolute untruth in his "Twenty Years of Con- 
gress" : "Sickles had perhaps the most difficult command of 
any of the Generals in the South, as South Carolina from the 
beginning of the war had presented phases of disobedience to 
the federal authority peculiar to her people and antecedent his- 
tory." South Carolina was from "the beginning of the war" 
the chief object of Northern vindictiveness and was treated 
accordingly by Sherman during the war and Sickles after it. 
She was the typical prostrate state, and, until some years later, 
resistlessly suffered outrages beyond any . experienced else- 
where in the South. So far from the state being the most "dif- 
ficult to govern," in an editorial in the Augusta Constitutionalist, 
probably the most popular and widely read of all Southern pa- 
pers of this period, South Carolina and her people, were cruelly 
berated for "apathy which encouraged Sickles to break ground 
for negro social equality." It said reproachfully, "the time 
has never come when servility or fawning could benefit the 
South. When an eminent politician and former secessionist 
fervidly defended the lawless interferences of Gen. Sickles in 
the columns of the National Intelligencer; when the so-called 
Governor of the State played constant toady to his pro-consular 
director ; when Carolinians have stated in our hearing that 
"Sickles is the best Governor we ever had," when a Dead Sea 
sluggishness brooded over the State at large, we do not marvel 
that this praise J bespattered commander should fancy himself 
a son of Jupiter and assume the nod of divinity." 

As stated already, upon adjourning in March, congress had, 
in anticipation of action by the president calling for further re- 
construction legislation, adopted a resolution that on July 3rd, 
the rolls should be called in each house and if a quorum re- 
sponded, an extra or adjourned session should be held. At the 

312 Mississippi Historical Society. 

same time the Republican caucus appointed a committee to act 
as "sentinels on the watch tower" — to sound the "long roll'' if 
the emergency arose. Treating the attorney general's opinion 
as a challenge, this committee responded in a defiant address 
or manifesto, a veritable call upon congress "To your tents, O 
Ishrael." This inflammatory appeal declared that beyond the 
conditions of the reconstruction act and its supplement before 
any of the late rebellious states were readmitted to the union, 
"Congress must be satisfied that the people are and are likely 
to be loyal to the Union by decisive and trustworthy majority." 
A characteristic letter was also published from the radical 
leader, Thad Stevens, urging the importance of the reassemb- 
ling of congress on the day fixed. These calls warned the 
southern people of more proscriptions and additional require- 
ments of even greater odium than those -already provided. 
Commenting on the committee address, and the manifest intent 
'"to put black heels on white necks," the New York Herald, 
though a supporter of congress against the president said : 

"The steps taken to secure the negro vote by driving the white 
men into inevitable opposition, certifies that the negroes can only 
be held on a platform on which white men cannot stand. If 
promises to the negro are kept the Republicans will scarcely poll 
a white vote in any Southern state. The bad policy of the Re- 
publican party, the headlong precipitancy of its frantic leaders, 
have placed it in such a false position on that great subject of re- 
construction, that its promises to the negro arc threats to the 
zvhite man; and these threats have driven the white man hope- 
lessly beyond the radicals' reach." 

Under lowering clouds congress reassembled July 3rd. The 
opinion of the Attorney General served as a pointer for the 
closure of every avenue to executive interposition to stay a ty- 
rannical fulfillment of the radical scheme. The second supple- 
mentary act was drafted, making a clean sweep of all obstacles 
in the way of military despotism. There was under it an ex- 
press enlargement of the class of disfranchised whites. While 
Democratic argument was vain, the following passage from the 
speech of Representative James Brooks, of New York, on the 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 313 

bill as it was reported from the reconstruction committee, and 
the reply of Stevens, is quoted : 

"You have selected the least intelligent of human races to share 
co-partnership in this government. It is impossible for these two 
races to live together on terms of intimacy and friendship, as you 
propose. You have stirred up the element of awful strife be- 
tween them. The negro Haitien is wiser than you. He allows 
no white man to own real estate on that island. The black Li- 
berian is wiser than you. He allows no white man to share with 
him his government. The experiment in Jamaica of a mixed gov- 
ernment has broken down. Nowhere on this earth has the mixed 
government succeeded. God ordained one race superior to the 
other, and no feat of yours can bring down the Caucasian to the 
level of the African, or bring up the African to the level of the 
Caucasian. " "Another good reason,'' said Thad Stevens in the 
debate, "for negro suffrage, is that it will insure the ascendancy 
of the Republican party. 

"Do you avow that purpose ?" he was asked. 

"I do," said Thaddeus Stevens. "If impartial suffrage is ex- 
cluded in the Southern states then every one of them will send 
solid delegations to congress. They will combine with the cop- 
perhead Democrats of the North and elect a President and con- 
gress. For all these reasons I am for negro suffrage." 

Under such a devil's whip, the second supplemental act was 
passed. "For a comparison of the act," Historian Rhodes says, 
"we will have to go back to the days of Charles I, or Louis 
XVI." When the partisan aim and the dreadful and enduring 
evils of negro suffrage are measured, there is no parallel to this 
finish of the reconstruction plan. The operating sections of 
the act are quoted: 

Sec. 2. That the commander of any district named in said act 
shall have power, subject to the disapproval of the general of the 
army of the United States, to have effect till disapproved, when- 
ever in the opinion of such commander, the proper administra- 
tion of said act shall require it, to suspend or remove from office 
or the performance of official duties and the exercise of official 
powers any officer or person holding or exercising, or professing 
to hold or exercise, any civil or military office or duty in such 
district, under any power, election, appointment or authority de- 

314 Mississippi Historical Society. 

rived from or granted by or claimed under any so-called state or 
the government thereof or any municipal or other divisions, there- 
of ; and upon such suspension or removal, such commander sub- 
ject to the disapproval of the general as aforesaid, shall have 
power to provide from time to time for the performance of the 
said duties of such officer or person so suspended or removed by 
the detail of some competent officer or soldier of the army, or by 
the appointment of some other person to perform the same, and 
to fill vacancies occasioned by death, resignation, or otherwise. 

Sec. 3. That the general of the army of the United States shall 
be. invested with all the power of suspension, removal, appoint- 
ment, and detail granted in the preceding section to district com- 

Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That the acts of the officers 
of the army already done in removing in said districts persons ex- 
ercising the functions of civil officers and appointing others in 
their stead, are hereby confirmed, provided that any person here- 
tofore or hereafter appointed by any district commander to ex- 
ercise the function of any civil office may be removed either by 
the military officer in command of the district, or the general of 
the army; and it shall be the duty of such commander to remove 
from office as aforesaid persons who are disloyal to the govern- 
ment of the United States, or use their official influence in any 
manner to hinder, delay, prevent or obstruct the due and proper 
administartion of this act and the acts to which it is supplement- 

Sec. 5. That the boards pf registration provided for in the act 
entitled "An act supplementary to an act entitled 'An act to pro- 
vide for the more efficient government of the rebel states/ passed 
March 2, 1867, and to facilitate their restoration," passed March 
23, 1867, shall have power, and it shall be their duty, before allow- 
ing the registration of any person, to ascertain, upon such facts or 
information as they can obtain, whether such person is entitled to 
be registered under said act, and the oath required by said act 
shall not be conclusive on such question, and no person shall be 
registered unless such board shall decide that he is entitled there- 
to; and such board shall also have power to examine, under oath, 
(to be administered by any member of such board,) any one 
touching the qualification of any person claiming registration ; 
but in every case of refusal by the board to register an applicant, 
and in every case of striking his name from the list as hereinafter 
provided, the board shall make a note or memorandum, which 
shall be returned with the registration list to the commanding 
general of the district, setting forth the grounds of such refusal 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNcily. 315 

or such striking from the list ; Provided, That no person shall be 
disqualified as member of any board of registration by reason of 
race or color. 

Sec. 6. That the true intent and meaning of the oath pre- 
scribed in said supplementary act is, (among other things,) that 
no person who has been a member of the legislature of any state, 
or who has held any executive or judicial office in any state, 
whether he has taken an oath to support the constitution of the 
United States or not, and whether he was holding such office at 
the commencement of the rebellion, or had held it before, and 
who has afterwards engaged in insurrection or rebellion against 
the United States, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof, 
is entitled to be registered or to vote ; and the words "executive 
or judicial office in any state'' in said oath mentioned shall be 
construed to include all civil offices created by law for the admin- 
istration of any general law of a state, or for the administration 
of justice. 

Sec. 10. That no district commander or member of board of 
registration, or any of the officers or appointee- acting under 
them, shall be bound in his action by any opinion of any civil of- 
ficer of the United States. 

For immediate effect the veto of the President was a vain 
thing, except to add more fuel to % the impeachment scheme ; 
which the Senate judiciary committee had been considering 
since the recess taken by congress in March. Whatever may 
be the ultimate judgment on his. incidental errors, the righte- 
ousness of the President's oppostition to the reconstruction act 
is more than established by the veto messages over which they 
were passed.' The following synopsis of the last of the series, 
the veto of the 2nd supplemental act July 19th — which congress 
adjourned after overruling — is quoted : 

"Within a period less than a year the legislation of congress 
has attempted to strip the executive department of the govern- 
ment of some of its essential powers which the constitution and 
the oath provided. It devolves upon the President the duty to 
see that the laws are faithfully executed. In order to carry out 
the provisions of the constitution as regards this power, he must 
have the choice of the agents and make them subject to his con- 
trol and supervision ; but in the execution of these laws, the con- 
stant obligation upon the President remains, but the power to ex- 
ercise that constitutional duty is effectually taken away by ap- 

3lG Mississippi Historical Society. 

pointment of military commanders. The military commander 
is as to the power of appointment to make and take the place of 
the President, and the general of the army the place of the sen- 
ate; and any attempt on the part of the president to assert his 
own construction of power may, under the pretence of law be 
met by official insubordination. It is to be feared that thesejnili- 
tary officers while looking to the authority given by these laws 
rather than to the letter of the constitution, will recognize no 
authority but that given to commanders of districts and the gen- 
eral of the army. If there were no other objection than this to 
the proposed legislation, it would be sufficient. Whilst I hold 
the chief executive authority of the United States : whilst the 
obligation rests upon me to see that all the laws are faithfully 
executed, I can never willingly surrender that trust or power 
given for its execution. I can never give my assent to be made 
responsible for the faithful execution of the laws, and at the same 
time surrender that trust and the powers which accompany it 
to any other executive officer, high or low, or to any number of 
executive officers. If this executive trust vested by the consti- 
tution in the President is to be taken from him and vested in a sub- 
ordinate officer, the responsibility will be with congress in cloth- 
ing the subordinate with unconstitutional power and with the 
officer who assumes its exercise. This interference w r ith the con- 
stitutional authority of the executive department is an evil that 
will inevitably sap the foundation of our federal system. But 
it is not the worst evil of this legislation. It is a great public 
wrong to take from the President the powers conferred upon him 
alone by the constitution ; but the wrong is more flagrant and 
more dangerous when the powers so taken from the President 
are conferred on a subordinate executive officer, and especially 
on military officers. 

Over nearly one-third of the states of the United States mili- 
trary power, regulated by no fixed law, rules supreme. 

As stated previously, immediately after the enactment of the 
reconstruction act, looking upon it as the completed plan for the 
re-entrance of the southern states into the Union, odious as it 
was, but fearful that worse would follow if it were opposed by 
the white voters, there was a majority, if not an overwhelming 
one, for its acceptance at the polls. There was, it is true, an 
opposition element to the proposed convention for organizing 
the state government under a constitution embracing negro 
suffrage, white proscription, etc. As editor of the Woodville 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 317 

Republican, the writer of this contribution of our history stood 
with the minority and the following brief editorial quotation is 
given to illustrate the opposition view: 

"We can see no good in hurrying into the Union upon such a 
bid and at a time when our presence at the family board would 
be barely tolerated. Present conditions would not be improved. 
Look at Tennessee for instance. She is in the Union and what 
has it profited her to escape military rule? While the disciplined 
troops of the United States have been removed they have been 
replaced by undisciplined and lawless state military, white and 
black. Are not the people of Tennessee less happy, and less pro- 
tected from abuse and misrule today than those of Mississippi?" 

Nevertheless the majority of the white people were prepared 
to go to the polls and vote for a convention and delegates there- 
to. In this situation the supplementary act was passed, with its 
iron clad oath, its restriction of registration of officials to the 
"loyal" and the enlargement of the numbers excluded from the 
polls and the jurisdiction over complaints, frauds, etc. Such a 
change in the original act was complained of as an unprovoked 
violation of the implied faith in it as a finality. This caused a 
great cooling off in the intention to vote for a convention. 

A Woodville Republican editorial noting the unfavorable ef- 
fect of the supplemental act is quoted from : 

"We should shun this offered reconstruction as we would the 
seven deadly plagues ; and it is a realization of its true tendency 
which we have above stated, that has and is causing this reac- 
tionary sentiment. Many who favored reconstruction as they 
interpreted it, have abjured it, appalled and disgusted, on truly 
perceiving its tendency. And that which was indisputably the 
popular sentiment, a few weeks since, has not now one advocate 
in the community; or if so, we have no knowledge of him. All 
are fully convinced of the impolicy — the ruinous policy, of our 
so innovating our state constitution." 

Complaints of the violated faith in the imposition of harder 
conditions were worse than futile. This was met by congress 
with the "P>rennus cry" of Vae Victis — the sword in the shape 
of the second supplementary act was thrown in the scale. It 
left nothing unprovided, no loophole of amelioration or modi- 

318 Mississippi Historical Society. 

fication by construction. The 10th section removed the dis- 
trict commanders from the reach of the courts, while the 3rd, 
giving Gen. Grant — of whom the reconstruction architects by 
now felt reasonably sure — concurrent power which compelled 
a like authority in all the districts. There had been no provo- 
cation whatever in the Southern states for the second supple- 
mental act. Between March and July, while the acts already 
adopted were being fitted on the military districts, there was 
no resistance or revolt — no reports of violence toward the ne- 
gro. Alleged to be called to neutralize the Attorney General's 
ruling, congress went farther, and imposed new and more pro- 
scriptive conditions and, while conferring larger powers upon 
the district commanders, raised them and all of their acts above 
the review of the courts. To people of today, the trials im- 
posed upon the whites by the political excitement and turmoil 
in 1867, aggravated as they were by the adverse farming con- 
ditions, crops fast running to weeds and waste, cotton being 
devoured by army worms, is not conceivable. The most de- 
pressing feature was the absolute indifference of the negro 
farm labor to an economic situation that threatened all with 
ruin. Such was their political intoxication that no call upon 
them in the fields so imperative, no persuasion so tempting, no 
appeals so abject, could turn them from the League calls to the 
almost daily campaign harangues. Matters became much 
worse after the July supplemental act. Under its influence 
and operations, quickly taking in the heavy hand laid upon 
their former owners, the negroes lost what remaining respect 
and obedience they had for any compulsory authority of their 
landlords and employers. The following order added further 
to the despair of the white people, while convincing the ne- 
groes and their "loyal" leaders that the government was with 
them : 

Headquarters Fourth Military District, 
(Mississippi and Arkansas.) 

Office of Civil Affairs. 
Vicksburc. Miss, July 29th, 1867. 

The United States congress having provided by special law for 
the organization of state governments and the basis of suffrage 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 319 

without regard to color, and having also provided for the removal 
of all officers who in any manner thwart or obstruct the execution 
of this law, and the duty of administering these laws in this mil- 
itary district having devolved upon the undersigned, all state and 
municipal officers of whatever degree or kind are hereby notified 
that any attempts to render nugatory the action of congress de- 
signed to promote the better government of the states lately en- 
gaged in rebellion, by speeches or demonstrations at public meet- 
ings in opposition thereto, will be deemed good and sufficient 
cause for their summary removal from office. The same prohi- 
bition in regard to speeches and demonstrations at public meet- 
ings will be strictly applied to all officers holding appointments 
from these headquarters, and existing orders prohibiting the in- 
terference of officers of the army in elections will be rigidly en- 
forced in this district, 

E. O. C. Ord, 
Brig, and B vt Maj. Gen. U. S. A., 

Com'g 4th Military District. 

Upon a people already despondent, the depressing effect of 
a mandate — which was in fact a provision of the law — restrain- 
ing all civil officials, naturally the popular leaders, from partici- 
pation in the campaign, may be easily imagined. In Mississipi 
where there was a large numerical negro registered majority, 
it cast the shadow of certain defeat of white control of the con- 
vention. It was followed up by the order apportioning the con- 
vention delegates among the various counties, to be voted for 
on the first Tuesday in November. This apportionment which 
was flagrantly unfair and partial, caused bitter complaint. Its 
chief vice was a violation of the principle which had always pre- 
vailed in the state, of direct county representation — the thinly 
populated white counties of the southeastern part of the state 
being grouped in delegate districts, while others were smoth- 
ered under the negro majorities of adjoining counties with 
which they were districted. Registration had disclosed a de- 
cided majority of negro voters, and a preponderance of negro 
counties. But this was not trusted as sufficient to insure the 
radical control of the convention, and an unwarranted propor- 
tion of the delegate total was conferred upon the black counties. 
For instance, Washington, Claiborne and Wilkinson, black, 

320 Mississippi Historical Society. 

with a combined population of 37,000, were given seven dele- 
gates. The two counties of Ponotoc and Ittawamba, white, 
36,000 inhabitants, were allotted two delegates. Tallahatchie. 
black, with a registered vote of 350, was given a delegate, and 
Lawrence, white with 1,855, one. Choctaw, a white county, 
was made radical by merging it with Oktibbeha, black. Thirty 
black counties were given over two-thirds of the total dele- 
gates. Thus it will be seen that control of the convention by 
the radicals was assured beyond peradventure. Such an ap- 
portionment of delegates answers the charge ignorantly made, 
that "the white men of Mississippi made a great mistake by al- 
lowing the election to go by default, allowing the radicals to se- 
cure a large majority of delegates." As will be shown, the 
white men of the state — playing as they w r ere against loaded 
dice — pursued the only policy that offered a possibility of es- 
cape from the clutch of fate. The apportionment order is 
quoted in detail : 

Warren county shall elect five delegates ; Lowndes and Hinds 
each four ; De Soto, Marshall, Monroe, Carroll, Noxubee, Wash- 
ington, Yazoo and Adams, three each; Tippah, Tishmingo, Pan- 
ola, Lafayette, Lee, Yallabusha, Chickasaw, Holmes, Attala, Mad- 
ison, Rankin, Lauderdale, Claiborne, Copiah, Jefferson and Wilk- 
inson, two each ; Pontotoc. Itawamba. Tunica. Coahoma, Bolivar, 
Tallahatchie, Calhoun, Sunflower, Winston. Isaquena, Neshoba, 
Kemper, Leake, Scott, Newton, Jasper, Clark, Wayne, Lawrence. 
Franklin, Amite, Pike and Harrison, one each ; Oktibbeha and 
'Choctaw, together, three ; Simpson and Covington, combined, one ; 
Smith and Davis, combined, one; Marion and Hancock, combined. 
one ; Perry, Greene and Jackson, combined, one ; Holmes and 
Madison, together, will elect one. 

When the inevitability of reconstruction on the basis of ne- 
gro enfranchisement was realized, the most convincing argu- 
ment for reconciling the southern people to it was that they 
wotild control the vote for the freedmen. While this argument 
was wholly vain, superficially considered it seemed sound and 
simple, as it was so plainly the right and natural order of 
events. Hence when attended by complete and utter failure, 
the white people were censured for not having sought to effec- 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 321 

tuate such control over the negroes — for driving them, by neg- 

'lect and scorn, into the net of the base and sordid adventurers 

who descended on the land like a swarm of devouring locusts. 

The annals of the times show the effort was made faithfully 
and earnestly. Personal persuasions and force of reason were 
exhausted. Meetings were called, and addresses made, pleading 
for friendly political relations between the races, as the founda- 
tion of the new governmental order. The result was failure, ut- 
ter and universal. The whispered word of radical emissaries 
and adventurers inciting suspicion and animosity of the ne- 
groes toward their old owners, outweighed all. Upon reflec- 
tion this will be seen to have been natural and inevitable. The 
Southern manner of address, his air of authority, conflicted 
with the new sense of freedom, and contradicted his professions 
of acceptance of political equality. Suspicion and distrust in 
the negro was second nature. He saw that there was no real 
and lasting fulfillment in that quarter, for the aspirations which 
the law promised him. The situation was made to order for 
the carpet bagger. His professions and practices of social fra- 
ternity captured the black man's fancy. He slept in his cabin 
and ate at his table. This was an object lesson which native 
white men could not stand against. The fact that the South- 
erner was an employer of the labor of the negro, was another 
impossible obstacle of political equality. The excitement and 
turmoil of the weeks and months of registration, the meetings 
and the speakings, caused an industrial distraction and disor- 
der, which menaced the state with another crop failure. 

There was much complaint of unfairness by the whites 
against the registrars. Negro presumption and insolence, and 
white turbulence and resentment, on many occasions, brought 
affairs near the danger line. But the distribution of several 
thousand regular soldiers throughout the state, chiefly in the 
black counties, had a generally wholesome effect. There were 
some arrests and a few convictions by military courts of white 
men for interfering with reconstruction, or disturbing the 
peace. As a rule the officers and soldiers sympathized with 
the whites. This the negroes did not understand. It conflicted 

322 * Mississippi Historical Society. 

with the lessons of his political primer. The course of instruc- 
tion by his carpet bagger teacher was simplicity itself. It com- 
prised two cardinal precepts — sleepless distrust of his old 
owner, and everlasting gratitude to the Republican party for 
his freedom. Never was a lesson learned with more ease and 
thoroughness. The tenacity of its hold on negro nature is the 
key unlocking the secret of the complete ascendancy of .the 
carpet bagger. The second article of the creed, it is true, soon 
faded. The negro quickly saw through the sham of the debt 
of gratitude. But the corrupt and abominable nature of the 
carpet bag negro alliance was perpetuated through the bond of 
mutual dependence, and defense against the common foe. The 
seeds of distrust planted in the negro breast toward the South- 
ern white man have never been eradicated. They took root 
deep and undying as the coco grass in Delta soil. It kept the 
black phalanx unbroken to the end. Sometimes there was fric- 
tion and insubordination toward the carpet bagger. From de- 
spising the negro tool, the carpet bagger acquired for him a 
jealous hatred, as the sons of Ham grew to aspire to a share 
of the spoils of office. But the strife was always accommodated 
before election day. The negro did not become so estranged 
that he could not be cajoled into line through his weak vanity, 
to which the white man's solicitations and flattery irresistibly 
appealed. As a rule the carpet baggers were ex-soldiers or 
camp followers. Many had been officers in the discharged 
negro regiments. The band of spoilers was augmented by the 
native white "scalawag.'' All were inspired by Iago's precept 
"put money in thy purse." Such were the teachers by whom 
the black dupes were tutored in the lessons of citizenship. 

As the campaign progressed, the arrogance and bad spirit of 
the negroes grew. They were led on toward violence by 
leaders emboldened through the added severity of the second 
supplemental act, and by actions and orders thereunder of the 
military for putting the reconstruction measures into opera- 
tion. The negro masses were quick to catch on to the situa- 
{ tion — to the determination of the Republican party to place 
/"the bottom rail on top." There were frequent narrow escapes 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 323 

from race collisions, which were only kept within bounds by 
the resolute front of the whites and the proximity of the mili- 
tary. Upon acquainting himself with the condition in the state, 
Gen. Ord had foreseen its possibilities, of danger and had asked 
for and secured more troops ; two regiments additional of in- 
fantry and a battalion of cavalry. As the whites were all for 
peace, this gave him ample force for distribution over the state. 
Nevertheless, the situation became so menacing that early in Sep- 
tember, General Ord published an order declaring that "for 
the purpose of securing peace and quiet and preventing vio- 
lence, disorder and riot throughout the limits of this military 
district, the assembling of armed organizations or bodies of 
citizens under any pretense whatever is prohibited/' Wood- 
ville was the scene of a near race riot shortly before this order 
was issued. Incident to a political gathering of hundreds of 
negroes in town, one of them was arrested for some minor dis- 
order. His release was demanded by a turbulent and threat- 
ening crowd. In the ensuing excitement the local bureau offi- 
cer wired for troops. Before they arrived the trouble was pro- 
vided against by an organization of white men for resistance 
and suppression of any future riotous demonstration in any 
part of the county. But the incident, the narrowness of escape 
from bloody fray, created a profound impression. The arrival 
of a company of soldiers was attended by an editorial in the 
Republican which is quoted for the lurid light it shed upon the 
situation : . 

"We were mistaken in supposing that General Ord would send 
no troops to secure the tranquillity, so rudely threatened, in this 
community. The advent of Company G, 24th Regular Infantry, 
Lieutenant Haller, commanding, was an event hailed with satis- 
faction by all the law-abiding citizens of Woodville and vicinity. 
The very marked change which has appeared in the tone and 
manner of the colored element of the county would convince even 
General Gillem that the entire responsibility for the late state of 
affairs rests with them; or rather with the thieving wretches who 
control their league. We have learned from a number of plant- 
ers from distant portions of the county that this change is notice- 
able generally, and so far as the town is concerned, it is obvious 
to the most superficial observer. 

324 Mississippi Historical Society. 

We think the presence of the troops also convinced many of our 
most conservative whites of the policy of voting "No Convention." 
All see how incalculably superior is military rule to a civil gov- 
ernment, based upon negro political supremacy. May we be 
preserved in future from that which seemed so imminent a few 
days since, for we state, without fear of contradiction, that all 
the efforts on the part of the whites to avoid a conflict, would 
not have been of avail one month longer ; or election day, at the 
farthest, would have consummated it. The insolence and arro- 
gance of the negroes was surely tending to bring about an attack 
from the whites in their own defence, which would have resulted 
in their (the negroes') extermination; from this we are preserved 
for the present. But undoubtedly a terrible change has been 
wrought in the minds of the whites — the landholders — towards 
the negroes. Notwithstanding an experience founded on a con- 
stant contact and acquaintance with several generations, all have 
conceded that the extreme capacity and adaptability of their ig- 
norance to purposes of harm, surpasses all previously formed 

So discouraged were the land owners by their experience of 
the influence of radical politics upon the negroes, that a strong 
sentiment grew up for introducing wmite immigration in sub- 
stitution for the negroes. While the season had been unfavor- 
able and the injury to the cotton crop by the army worm great, 
there was a general recognition that the disaster was chiefly 
due to the political campaign. In Wilkinson and other coun- 
ties associations were effected to secure a labor home seeking 
white population. Though it came to nothing, the organization 
effected was thorough and earnest. But the obstacles in the 
way of its consummation were insurmountable. 

There was in fact no way of escape from the doom of negro 
enfranchisement and its infliction of misrule and soul torture. 
The years of wandering in the wilderness of despondency and 
humiliation that had been decreed the Southern people by their 
hate-inspired Northern brothers, had to be lived through. Not 
until the curtain was raised in 1867, was the penalty of defeat 
seen in hideousness as utter as that revealed by the lifced 
veil of the prophet of Khorassan, 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 323 

In carrying the law into effect some of the registrars kept 
within the bounds of decent regard for their official duties, on 
the surface at least. But the majority gave a true interpreta- 
tion to the radical policy and intent — proved fit instruments 
for a vengeful and abominable task. The following clipping 
from the Vicksburg Herald only differs from the rest in blunt- 

Carthage, Miss., July 2d, '67. 
Mr. Editor — Sir: We, the undersigned, would like to ask a 
question stated below. The facts we will swear to. We were 
in the registration office of "Neshoba" county when a negro en- 
tered for registration. One of the officers asked him if he knew 
the responsibility of an oath. He said he did. They then went 
through the form of administering the oath, etc., and handed him 
his certificate. After this one of them rose up and told him, "If 
any man interferes or insults you do you protect yourself; if you 
have any weapons about you or fire arms, do you kill him, for / 
would do it myself, and then go and report to the justice of the 
peace, and if he does not give you justice, report to us at Jackson, 
and zve will lift him." The question is, is this the proper way 
to instruct the negroes of the South. If it is, we would like to 
know it. Yours, with respect, 


S. S. Harris. 
Residence: High Hill, Leake county, Mississippi. 

While General Ord did not cease to manifest just and sym- 
pathetic consideration for the Southern people, certain of his 
acts at this period subjected him to hostile criticism. The act 
for which he was most condemned was the arrest and confine- 
ment to the guard house of Colonel W. H. McCardle, editor of 
The Vicksburg Times, who was charged with "obstructing re- 
construction and resistance to the reconstruction laws." The of- 
fense charged consisted of criticism carried to the extreme 
of personal and vituperative attacks on General Ord. While 
the provocation was great, it would have been wisdom to have 
ignored it and trusted to the chances of reaction. An exceed- 
ingly vexatious issue grew out of it — one known in history as 
the McCardle case — and swelled to national proportions. While 
General Ord was bitterly censured for trying to "throttle the 

326 Mississippi Historical Society. 

press," for using official power for satisfaction of personal in- 
sults, in another view it was his duty to punish an attack which 
threatened to lower his authority in public opinion. He had 
proved shortly before that he was a protector instead of a per- 
secutor of the editorial right of legitimate criticism. In a let- 
ter severely rebuking the commander of the post at Camden, 
Ark., for not punishing an officer and soldiers of his com- 
mand for sacking a newspaper office, he ordered the arrest and 
court martial of the guilty parties. They were brought to trial, 
convicted and punished with severity. In the letter referred to, 
to Colonel Gilbert, the commander of the post at Camden who 
had attempted a defense of the outrage, General Ord said : 

Your assertion that the military forces are not the servants 
of the people of Arkansas, but rather their masters, is unjust, 
both to the people and the military, and unfounded in fact. The 
military forces are the servants of the laws, and the laws are for 
the benefit of the people. Sec. 3, of the act of congress for the 
more efficient government of the rebel states makes it«the duty of 
the military "to protect all persons in their rights of person and 
property, to suppress insurrection, disorder and violence, and to 
punish, or cause to be punished, all disturbers of the public 
peace/' etc. So that instead of presuming to violate those laws, 
to gratify private revenge, troops are placed in Arkansas to in- 
sure their execution, equally upon and for the benefit of all. 

The Vicksburg Herald is quoted, before the McCardle arrest: 
"He may as commander of this district have done things which 
in our opinion were unnecessary and unconstitutional by the laws 
under which he acts, but as a courteous gentleman and one de- 
sirous of performing his unpleasant duties with as little oppres- 
sion as possible towards our people, we believe him to be above 
reproach, and certainly unsurpassed by any of his confreres." 

The strained relations that had long existed between the 
President and Secretary of War Stanton were signalized Au- 
gust 12th by the chief executive's notification to the Secretary 
of his suspension from office. Stanton walked out under pro- 
test, denying the President's right under the recently enacted 
tenure of office act, to suspend him without the consent of the 
Senate. "But," as he stated in his protest, "inasmuch as the 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 327 

General commanding the armies of the United States has no- 
tified me that he has accepted the appointment, I have no al- 
ternative but to submit to force." In a special message to con- 
gress the President dwelt at length on the Stanton case, relat- 
ing its provocation and justifying his act as a constitutional 
right. While Gen. Grant was not enamored with the tender of 
the office, he acceded to the President's persuasion and accepted 
the ad interim appointment. Stanton's presence in the cabinet 
was naturally irritating to the President, all of whose prede- 
cessors had exercised the right of having friends and support- 
ers in their cabinets. But as the sole obstructionist in it, Stan- 
ton was powerless to thwart or materially interfere with any 
executive acts or policies. In fact nothing was gained while 
much was lost through his suspension. The supplemental acts 
having gone beyond Northern popular wish, reaction was to be 
expected. Though irreparable injury had been wrought, with- 
out fresh fuel to keep up the fires of Northern passion they 
would have sooner burned out. So manifest was the dissatis- 
faction with their extreme course that the Republican leaders 
were apprehensive of a disapproving verdict in the pending 
state elections in the North. Thus the dictate of a wise policy 
was against further provocation by the President. Under such 
a situation it is needless to say that what he did to Stanton was 
what the Radical leaders wished. It was just the issue they 
needed in the campaign. But the worst of reopening his con- 
tention with the congressional majority, was in the impetus it 
gave to the impeachment case ; joined with the final and, to the 
President, disastrous break it caused with General Grant. Hav- 
ing rid the cabinet of Stanton, the President used the axe on 
Sheridan, Sickles and Pope, commanders respectively of the 
5th, 2nd and 3rd districts. Command of the states over which 
the three had tyrannized, and in which they were hated, was 
conferred upon Gens. Hancock, Canby and Meade, all soldiers 
of high character and just sentiment. 

Against the removal of Sheridan, which was first made, Gen- 
eral Grant, with whom he was prime favorite, protested ve- 
hemently, though vainly. "It is unmistakably/' he said, "the 

'328 Mississippi Historical Society. 

expressed wish of the country that Gen. Sheridan should not 
be removed from his present command. * * * His removal 
will only be regarded as an effort to defeat the law of the land. 
It will be interpreted by the unreconstructed element in the 
South as a triumph/' But the President could not so see it. 
Not yet was the commander of the armies, Secretary of War, 
and specially constituted ruler over the military districts, to be 
persuaded to lock horns with the President to the limit of revo- 
lution, as he was urged by the radical press. The removals 
were not only boldly defiant of Republican sentiment, but of 
the intent of the reconstruction law that aimed at divesting the 
President of jurisdiction over the district commanders. The 
following from two radical papers tells what was expected of 
Gen. Grant: 

From the Detroit Press, Radical. 

"By implication and intent, the law gives General Grant power 
to resist the President in precisely such a case as the present, but 
not in direct terms. It places in General Grant's power the priv- 
ilege of insubordination, if he chooses to accept the responsibil- 
ity; but it still leaves a refusal to obey in the nature of insubordi- 
nation. It tells the general, that if a crisis shall arise such that 
you think best to disobey the President, the President shall be 
pozverless to punish yon, unless the senate thinks you deserve 
punishment. In short, it furnishes an opportunity for the gen- 
eral, without imposing upon him a duty. 

For a bold, ambitious general, trained in political as well as 
military tactics, this law furnishes a splendid opportunity. Such 
a man by refusing to obey the President's recent orders, and 
planting himself upon this law. could practically have made him- 
self master of the situation, and dictator over reconstruction dur- 
ing the recess of congress ; and, in this, sure of the enthusiastic 
support of the people, and of the gratitude of congress and the 
country, such a general could have retained Sheridan and Sickles 
in place, and blocked the President's whole game. Such a man 
General Grant is not.'' 

From the New York Tribune, Radical. 

"We want Grant to be with us, so essentially with us, that we 
can lean upon his strong right arm. We believe his heart is 
right; but he has himself to dread more than any other influence. 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 32D 

He has been too easy with the President, too good natured, too 
anxious to please, and so has been betrayed into false positions, to 
the detriment of the general welfare. We regret that he has 
consented to the removal of General Sickles; for there is an im- 
portant principal involved in this case, quite as deeply as in that 
of Sheridan. If he has the right to object to the removal of 
Sheridan, he has the right to object- to the removal of Sickles, and 
all the other district commanders. This is no mere technical 
quarrel about the wording of an order. It is a conflict of funda- 
mental principles. Congress has imposed upon the general of 
the army the responsibility of seeing that the reconstruction laws 
are faithfully executed in the spirit in which they were framed. 
General Grant cannot throw off that responsibility upon Mr. 
Johnson. It is not enough for him to place himself upon record 
as an enemy of the President's policy. He has a strict duty to 
discharge toward the people who have confided to him his high 
trust. It is time for him now to be stern. He should know that 
the President means war, and that he cannot escape a sublime re- 

September 7th the President issued a proclamation enlarging 
the lists of persons and classes granted amnesty for participa- 
tion in the rebellion. Under the acts of congress which left the 
recipients of executive clemency but little less the victims of a 
harsh and tyrannical government than those left under rebel- 
lion's ban, the proclamation enlisted neither appreciation nor 
attention. But as a historic foot note the proclamation is 
quoted from : 

"The following persons and no others are excluded from the 
benefits of this proclamation and the proclamation of the 29th 
day of May, 18G5, viz. : 

"First. The chief or pretended chief executive officer, includ- 
ing the President and Vice President, and all heads of depart- 
ments of the pretended Confederate or rebel government, and all 
who were agents thereof in foreign states and countries, and all 
who held or pretended to hold in the service of the said pre- 
tended Confederate government a military rank or title above the 
grade of brigadier general, or naval rank or title above that of 
captain, and all who were or pretended to be governors of states, 
while maintaining, abetting or submitting to and acquiescing in 
the rebellion. 

Second. All persons who in any way treated otherwise than 
as lawful prisoners of war persons who in any capacity were em- 

330 Mississippi Historical Society. 

ployed or engaged in the military or naval service of the United 

"Third. All persons who at the time they may seek to obtain the 
benefits of this proclamation are actually in civil, military or 
naval confinement or custody or legally held to bail either before 
or after conviction, and all persons who were engaged directly or 
indirectly in the assassination of the late President of the United 
States, or in plot or conspiracy in any manner therewith con- 
nected. " 

But that the making of voters out of the ex-slaves was so 
deadly serious, it would have been the farce of the age. Even 
as it was, the scenes of the registration stands furnished the 
people with a supply of humor that was tinged with tragedy. 
The ludicrous incidents compelled laughter in every county. The 
following from a write-up of negroes taking the registration oath 
for a Northern paper is typical : 

Throughout all the recital their countenances showed a des- 
perate mental effort to keep their "holt" of the meaning, and dur- 
ing the reading of the main body of the oath the effort was meas- 
urably successful ; but when the registering officer came to where 
the formula speaks of "an act supplementary to an act," the poor 
fellows become perfectly flabbergasted; like Twemlow, they 
found their intellects giving way under the severe strain, and they 
lapsed into mere outer darkness and collapse. When I afterward 
talked with them on the court house steps, I could not find one 
who had the faintest idea of the meaning or purpose of the thing, 
and the brightest of them all only knew that it was something — 
he knew not what — that was "de best for de country." 

As the time drew near for the election, the adoption of a def- 
inite policy for the white voters to unite upon, grew imperative. 
There was no little inharmony of opinion upon the full realiza- 
tion of the congressional plan of reconstruction. The line of 
difference outcropped in the resolutions of two meetings held 
in Jackson, representing divided views of action. One called 
itself the "Constitutional Union party" and the other the "Con- 
servative Reconstruction party." Both adopted patriotic plat- 
forms, declaring acceptance of the results of the war. The es- 
sential point of division hinged upon the course to be pursued 
in the pending election — to vote or not to vote. Both parties 

Mississippi's Provisional Government — McNeily. 331 

advised registration, but thereafter they divided. The conserv- 
ative reconstructionist favored the nomination of candidates 
for delegates, with the view of controlling the convention pro- 
vided in it. The objection to that course was that the law de- 
pended the holding of the convention upon the poll, for or against, 
of a majority of the registered vote. Hence every vote for 
delegate was forced to constitute one of such majority. The 
constitutional unionist contended for defeat of the plans of con- 
gress by registering and remaining away from the polls. They 
held that the result of an indefinite continuance of military 
government was preferable to reconstruction as proposed. This 
view had been greatly strengthened by the supplemental act, 
and the grossly inequitable apportionment of delegates, mak- 
ing a white convention majority impossible of achievement. 
In the convention at Jackson, October 15, it was resolved to 
seek defeat of the convention, which to be held required a ma- 
jority of the rejected vote to be polled, by remaining away from 
the polls. Abstenation was urged from "any participation what- 
ever, in the election, as we might thereby involuntarily aid in 
enforcing the military acts." This policy was not only true in 
principle, it was congenial to feelings. A radical convention, 
composd of negroes and carpet baggers, with a sprinkling of 
home whites, was held Sept. 10th, the first gathering of the 
new and spurious electorate ever held in the state. Their res- 
olutions expressed devotion to congress and the Republican 
party, which had breathed into the negro electorate the breath 
of life. 

General order number 31, September 26th, announced that 
registration having been completed, election thereunder would 
be held commencing the first Tuesday of November, and con- 
tinue until all the precincts had been polled. 

While the apportionment scheme had destroyed all chance 
of controlling the convention by a white delegate majority, the 
authority vested in the irresponsible and unscrupulous regis- 
trars "made assurance doubly sure." This closed and locked 
the doors on all probability of escape from the prescribed end. 
The arbitrary and unrestrained power of the registrars and the